Summary: Christmas is a time with so many meanings. Explore seven consecutive Christmases with Lily and James. And maybe along the way discover the spirit of Christmas.
I wrote and posted this one shot last Christmas and since I couldn't come up with anything creative enough for a Christmas one shot this year I thought I'd repost it. I hope you like it and Merry Christmas!
The Spirit of Christmas
…At Christmas you take a chance…
Hogwarts, December 15th, 1974, Sixth Year,
Hogwarts Castle was in its element. Decorated over every inch, there was no escaping the Christmas festivities. Students were chattering excitedly, anticipating the end of classes, the start of holidays and most of all Christmas.
Lily Evans was walking down one of Hogwarts' numerous corridors with a group of friends discussing their Christmas plans. To her great annoyance a tall, slightly gangly but good-looking nonetheless boy with the messiest black hair in Hogwarts was following her.
Whirling around suddenly to face him she didn't anticipate quite how close behind her he really was.
"What do you want Potter?" She asked in irritation, trying hard to ignore her discomfort at how close their faces were.
"We'll… er… see you later Lily." One of her friends called as the giggling bunch continued down the corridor leaving her behind. Lily scowled prettily and grumbled softly. James Potter grinned down at the peeved redhead.
"I just wanted to say goodbye. Before you leave, you know." James said with what he hoped was a winning smile. Well, it would have been winning for any number of girls, except Lily Evans.
"Well thank you Potter. Goodbye and Merry Christmas to you too." Lily said rather reluctantly.
It really put her off when he was nice and well… normal to her. It kind of scared her. Made her wonder what he was planning behind the friendly smile as opposed to his cocky, self assured grin. And worst of all, shudder, it meant she had to actually be nice back to him. That was what she hated the most.
She made a move to turn around, he was still a little too close for comfort, but his soft touch on her shoulder froze her in her tracks. Words she could deal with. No problem. Lily had a talent for colourful insults and quick remarks, if she did say so herself. But physical contact? That got her. It made her skin burn, her breath to catch in her throat and she couldn't seem to look him in the eyes. It made her feel vulnerable, not in control.
"That's not all. I wanted to give you something too." James said softly. Lily could feel his warm breath on her face but she didn't pull away. Her feet seemed to be rooted to the spot and to her dismay she seemed to be moving even closer to him!
Lily didn't bother to ask what it was. She didn't need to. Because at that moment, James leaned forward, closing the admittedly small gap between them and pressed his lips softly to hers. And to her immense dismay, Lily found herself kissing him back. That was until she pulled back, her breathing uneven and her face flushed.
"What on earth do you think you are doing Potter?" She asked slightly hysterically. She wasn't quite sure if she was upset, angry or thrilled. They all seemed to feel rather similar at that instant in time.
James pointed above their heads to the conveniently placed garland of mistletoe.
"If you think that… that little piece of… of… of… vegetation is any excuse to –" Lily waved her arms around furiously trying to indicate the gravity of the situation but rather looking like she was trying to take flight.
"It's superstition. A girl can't refuse a kiss if she's standing under mistletoe." James pointed out simply.
Lily seemed about to object again when James leant over and kissed her again. Now that silenced her. Again, she found herself kissing back. When James pulled away they were both left rather breathless. Lily seemed about to make another angry reply like earlier, when James gently lifted her chin and looked straight into her emerald depths.
"Lily, it's Christmas. At Christmas you take a chance and that's what I'm doing. Please. Just don't say anything. Okay?" James looked at her, his eyes filled with something that Lily couldn't quite put a name to. But it made her heart thump painfully chest. And so she nodded.
For the third time in less than five minutes, James kissed her again. This time Lily didn't protest at all. Even crazier, she actually had a strange feeling afterwards that she had even wrapped her arms around his neck. And let him lean her against the wall as he deepened the kiss.
But craziest of all she actually enjoyed it. More than enjoyed it. But maybe that's what taking a chance is. Letting go of reason for a second. Listening to you heart and actually following what it tells you however crazy it may seem. And maybe, just maybe, you might discover something you never would have believed otherwise.
…At Christmas you tell the truth…
Hogwarts, Christmas Eve, 1975, Seventh Year
Lily sat on one of Gryffindor Tower's comfiest armchairs by the crackling fire twisting her hands nervously. Her mind was drifting back to last Christmas. She smiled reminiscently as she recalled the incident under the mistletoe but was soon staring quizzically into the fire. After that one, actually three, kisses there had been absolutely nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Zero.
He hadn't asked her out again. He hadn't tried to kiss her. He hadn't done anything! While it used to annoy her that he constantly bugged her and fought for her attention, it now annoyed her even more that he didn't.
With sudden inspiration Lily raced up to her dormitory and returned a few minutes later with a roll of parchment, a quill and a fresh bottle of ink. Setting down her things on the small coffee table, she wrote. For once she didn't look over it to check everything was right. She didn't procrastinate over what exactly she was going to write. She just wrote from the heart.
I know this is weird, me writing you a letter when I could just as easily go and tell you face to face. But the thing is, I'm not sure I would be able to go through with it. Which is why I'm taking the cowardly way out and am writing to you instead.
I'm not holding out any hope here but since it's Christmas – and if you can't say it at Christmas, when can you? – I just thought you should know that I love you. Maybe it's a little belated, and maybe you don't even feel the same but I just thought I'd let you know. Just in case. Because that's what you do at Christmas, right? You take a chance.
Merry Christmas and all my love,
A satisfied smile crossing her face, Lily quietly rolled up the parchment, crept silently up the boys' staircase and left the letter on the end of James' bed. It wasn't the best confession there ever was, but it was the best she could do. And to James, it was the best present he could have received.
…Christmas is a time to be with the people you love…
The Potter Manor, Christmas Eve, 1976
"Look at that one!" Lily said proudly, pointing down to her near perfect snow angel. Her friends gathered round to look.
"Well done Lily." Her best friend Carla said laughingly.
Collapsing back into the cold snow, Lily grinned. She loved the snow. She could spend all day just playing in the powdery white stuff. Waving her arms and legs, Lily started another snow angel. That was until a snowball hit her square on the forehead, the icy snow dripping down her face.
Standing up quickly, Lily saw Sirius bent over double, laughing his head off. With a mischievous glint in her eyes, Lily gathered a ball of fresh snow and lobbed it at him. Her aim wasn't great and it managed to smack into his leg.
"I'll get you for that one Lily!" Sirius called and started to chase after her. With a squeal, Lily turned and sprinted over to James. Grabbing his waist and laughing hysterically, she hid behind him.
"Oi, what do you think you're doing missy?" James laughed at Lily who was crouched behind him. His attention however, was averted when a snowball splattered against his cheek and slid down into the piles of snow covering the acres of land.
"Why you –" James took off after Sirius while Lily tossed another snowball at Clara.
After that it turned into a fully fledged snowball war. Squeals, shrieks and laughter rang across the property as white cannonballs flew from every direction.
A freezing hour later they all trooped inside to the warmth of the house. Wrapped in warm blankets and snuggled up by the fire Lily, James, Carla, Sirius and Remus gossiped happily. James went off and returned with five steaming mugs of hot chocolate and a bag of marshmallows.
For hours they sat their, swapping stories, telling jokes, reminiscing about their days at Hogwarts until at last the grandfather clock chimed midnight.
"Merry Christmas." Lily said with a wide smile. Her heart was full and she felt the happiest she had in a while. This was how things should be. Laughing with friends, spending those precious moments with the people you love most.
…Christmas is a time of love…
James' Place, December 23rd, 1977
"This is delicious James! Did you actually cook this yourself?" Lily asked in surprise.
"I take offence to that Lily. Do you think I can't cook or something? I will have you know that I am house trained!" James said in mock offence. Lily snorted.
"And I actually had it ordered in. But I was hoping to pass it off as my own cooking." He added in an undertone with smirk. Lily laughed.
"You can't possibly pass off something this good as your own cooking!" James pretended to look hurt but cracked into a grin.
"Christmas cracker?" James offered, holding out the end to her. Lily accepted and pulled. Bang. Smoke engulfed them and they waited for it to clear. Looking around curiously, Lily wondered where the hat and gift had gone. There didn't seem to be anything inside it.
"I think you got a dodgy cracker James." Lily said with a laugh. James, however, didn't laugh, or even crack a smile for that matter.
"No. I had it made especially." He nodded to her and Lily looked down. Sitting right in front of her that her eyes glazed over it when the smoke had cleared was a small velvet box. She looked at the box and then up at James questioningly.
"It's for you. Open it." He looked slightly nervous and Lily too found that it was harder to breathe than earlier. And it had nothing to do with the smoke.
With slightly trembling hand, Lily prised open the lid. And there, placed delicately inside was a ring. A beautiful ring too, with three diamonds embedded in a white gold band.
"Oh my God." Lily uttered.
James watched her cautiously and stood up. With wide eyes Lily watched as he came up to her and bent down on one knee. Her breath caught in her throat and her head was spinning.
"Lily Evans. I love you more than words can say. Will you make me the happiest man alive and to me the honour of being my wife?" He looked directly into her eyes and she felt herself getting lost in the depths of his hazel orbs. "Lily, will you marry me?"
She couldn't think. Her head was spinning so fast it was out of control now. She tried to draw breath but she couldn't. Her heart was thumping so loudly that it hurt and the pounding was so loud that it surrounded her.
"Yes!" And suddenly she found that she could breathe. Lily leapt into James' arms and kissed him for all she was worth.
As they drew back, James had a silly grin plastered to his face and Lily was sure that she had a matching expression.
"May I?" James held out the ring and Lily nodded, her eyes welling up with tears. Slowly, he slid the ring onto her finger and kissed her again.
"I love you James Potter!" Lily said through tears of happiness. But before they could properly celebrate their new engagement, the door was thrown open with a bang.
"What did she say?"
"Are you engaged?"
Sirius and Remus stood in the doorway, anxious expressions on their faces. Lily nodded and James beamed. They didn't need to say anything.
"Congratulations." Remus said as he hugged them both, grinning like just as much of a manic as Lily and James currently were.
"Merry Christmas." Sirius too, pulled them into a group hug and a single tear slid down his cheek, as much as he tried to hide it and later claimed it was just because of the smoke. Love answered all their Christmas wishes that year.
…Christmas is a time for giving….
Diagon Alley, December 21st, 1978
"What are we going to get Sirius for Christmas?" Lily asked, looking at her husband. James shrugged uselessly.
"James, he's your friend. How about a new beater's bat since he broke his other one trying to use it as a hammer?" Lily suggested. Since James gave no further input or ideas they headed to Quality Quidditch Supplies.
Leaden with shopping bags, two hours later they were ready to head home when Lily stopped in front of the gigantic Christmas tree in the middle of Diagon Alley.
"What are you doing Lily?" James asked in confusion. Sure it was a magnificent tree, but did she really have to stop?
Lily pointed to a little sign at the bottom of the tree next to a single neatly wrapped gift. It read: To those in need. This Christmas, give generously to those less fortunate than you. Help the people whose lives have been torn apart by tragedy. Share some Christmas spirit and help make someone else smile this Christmas.
Lily felt her heartstrings being pulled at the sight of only one present beneath the huge tree. And before she even thought about it, Lily began pulling gifts out of the many bags she was holding and placing them carefully around the tree. A pair of gloves. A doll. A brand new jacket. A blanket. A book.
What did they need all these gift for anyway? Did Sirius really need the Beater's bat? Did Carla need that jacket she loved so much? No. There were so many people out there with so little whose smiles would be brighter than anyone's at just getting some little gift, some small token. Christmas is a time for giving. And that's just what Lily did. Help someone who needed it so much more than she did. That's what Christmas is all about.
…Christmas is a time of miracles and new beginnings…
Godric's Hollow, Christmas Eve, 1979
Lily carefully set the table, putting the knives on the right and the forks on the left. She lit a candle in the centre and placed a single red rose in a small vase next to it. She wrapped the last present and put it neatly under the tree. She added another log of wood to the fire. And she waited. Waited in anxious anticipation for James to arrive home.
From the kitchen she heard the door open and James noisily come inside.
"I'm home Lily." He called. Lily waltzed into the room, her face aglow and a happy smile in place. She kissed her husband sweetly on the lips.
Dinner was quiet and Lily desperately wanted the time to pass so she could spill her news. James gave her the latest news of Sirius, Remus, Peter, work, quidditch… just about every current event in the country but most of it just washed over her.
"Okay," he said at last. "You've been grinning non-stop all through dinner. What are you so happy about?" Lily's grin broadened.
"I'm not allowed to be happy to spend dinner with my husband at Christmas?" She asked innocently but James rolled his eyes.
"You know what I mean. Spill."
"I have a surprise for you." Lily said simply. James's eyes widened in interest.
"What kind of a surprise?" He asked, playing along with her game.
"A very exciting surprise. A present." She smiled and James was growing edgy with curiosity.
"Please tell me!" He begged and Lily's face softened. "Is it my Christmas present?" He asked hopefully. Lily laughed.
"I suppose. But it will have to be a bit late. It won't be here for another seven months." James face wrinkled slightly in distaste.
"Seven months? What is it?" A sudden though occurred to him and he frowned. "It's not one of those owl-order things is it?" He asked, desperately hoping it wasn't. "Like the ones my great aunt used to send me all the time?" Lily laughed again at the expression on his face.
"No. It's not."
James was getting fidgety now. "Please Lily. Give me a hint." He begged again.
"Okay. It's cute and cuddly. It sometimes smells. It screams and cries a lot. It's the most beautiful gift in the world. It's a part of us." James looked puzzled. "It's make me grumpy as hell for the next seven months. I'll blow up like a balloon and you'll wonder why you even married me. But it'll be the greatest adventure in the world." Lily smiled. His puzzled look was gone but he looked a little shell-shocked.
James looked at her in surprise. "You-you're pregnant?" Lily nodded happily and a slow grin spread across James' face.
"We're really going to have a baby?" Lily laughed and nodded again. James stood up from the table and walked over to Lily, picked her up bridal style and carried her over to the couch. He kissed her slowly before puling away, a euphoric smile still plastered across his face.
"I'm going to be a dad!" The excitement in his voice was clearly evident. "You're going to be a mum. We'll be parents!" He sounded so ecstatic that Lily couldn't help beaming again.
He went quiet for a minute as if he was trying to work something out. "Seven months eh? A July baby."
He kissed her again and felt a tug of excitement at the prospect of being a dad. "That's the best Christmas present to date." James said when they broke away again. "Although there have been a lot of them." They both thought back to their past few Christmases. They all seemed to hold something special.
"Merry Christmas James." Lily said contentedly. And it was. Christmas is a time for miracles, and this was theirs. The miracle of new life.
…Christmas is a time for family…
Godric's Hollow, Christmas Day, 1980
"Look Harry, it's Uncle Sirius!" Lily grinned, pointing to the handsome man who had just stepped out of the fireplace and was dusting himself off.
Five-month-old Harry gurgled happily and gave a gummy smile. Striding over to where Lily was sitting on the couch, Harry perched on her lap, Sirius's face split into a grin. This was his family.
"Merry Christmas Lil." Sirius said, giving her a kiss on the cheek and making faces at Harry.
"James, Sirius is here!" Lily called to her husband who was busily doing something that was so incredibly 'important' that he had been occupied for the past two hours and incapable of helping with dinner. Lily suspected that her husband was simply trying to avoid helping, he was very good at that.
James strode into the room and gave Sirius a brotherly hug before turning to his wife and son. Harry started burbling anxiously at the sight of his dad so James picked him up, holding him out so that Harry giggled and gave another gummy smile.
James cooing playfully to a contented Harry, a sight no one ever thought they'd see, Lily and Sirius followed James into the kitchen. Handing Harry over to Sirius who beamed happily at his godson, James served dinner. About time he started helping, Lily thought exasperatedly.
Dinner went quickly. Well, of course it did with Sirius in the house. The chatter was loud and joyous and Harry even occasionally tried to join in with cheerful wails.
Stuffed to the brim, they soon retired to the lounge room to sit by the warm fire. The Christmas tree glowed beautifully and Harry attempted to pull some of the lower ball balls off until Lily noticed and carted him away, showering him with kisses and making baby Harry giggle.
Sirius smiled happily to himself as he looked around the room. Lily and James were laying in each others arms on the couch as James murmured things into Lily's ear, making her smile. Sirius was laying back in the armchair, a snoozing baby fast asleep in his arms. He closed his eyes contentedly. This was his family all right. And there was no place like home.
Sometimes it's easy to forget the true spirit of Christmas. In dark times we often get caught up in the hatred and greed of the world. It overshadows all the love and beauty that we so often miss. But it's there. You might need to look for it but it's all around you, everywhere you go.
Christmas is a time for family and friends, for being with the people you love. It's a time of joy, happiness, generosity, truth, miracles and love. That's the spirit of Christmas.
Thanks for reading. I'm sure Christmas stories are in abundance on this site at the moment but if you read and enjoyed this, please leave a review. Merry Christmas and happy holidays to everyone :-)