"What is so important that you must intrude on my Christmas holiday, Pettigrew?" Severus Snape hissed through a crack in the door as a small boy stood on the door step, bundled up in a scarf and covered in flakes of snow.
"Please, Severus," he said, trying to keep his teeth from chattering. "I have news!"
"And I don't have time to hear about the latest adventures of Potter and his friends," Snape growled as he began to close the door. "Good day, Wormtail," he said mockingly.
"It's about the Horsefeather girl!" Peter squeaked frantically. Snape opened the door a little wider, but did not wipe the always upturned, disgusted look from his face. "She's not who she says she is!" Snape's face seemed to creep into a smile, or as much of a smile as he was capable of without looking joyous. It was more of a sinister sneer.
"I'll call for Zephyros. I'm sure he would love to hear about this news," Snape said menacingly, a poisonous grin on his face.
The sun peeked over the hills, glistening through flecks of falling snow, and rested across the floor and on my bed, warming my face as I stirred. The smell of cinnamon and cocoa wafted through the air, reminding me that it was Christmas morning. I sprang out of bed and barreled down the stairs, not unlike a small child, eager to rip open his presents that sat beneath the tree. In my wake, I almost ran over a small woman, carrying a warm cup of tea in her hands.
"Oh, you're up!" Mrs. Potter said gleefully. "I was just about to come and wake you. There's tea and hot cocoa in the kitchen, dear. I haven't gotten breakfast started, so I hope you're not too hungry." She patted my shoulder lovingly and scurried into the kitchen. The giant Christmas tree was sparkling with thousands of tiny lights, and what seemed like hundreds of presents were crammed beneath its bottom branches, spilling into the rest of the living room. James and Sirius hobbled out of the kitchen, warming their hands on cups of hot cocoa. Sirius beamed at me as he pointed to the mountain of presents.
"Santa Claus came!" He said with a wide smile as he came over to me and gave me a good morning kiss.
"I wonder who told him you were here, Marilyn," James said playfully, eyeing the assortment of wrapped gifts. "Sirius and I already took a peek at them."
"You've got more than I do!" Sirius said, playing like a little kid who was jealous.
"Well, Sirius," I said with a smirk on my face, "we all know you're on the naughty list. I won't be surprised if most of your presents are filled with coal!" Sirius gave me a devilish wink as we all sat down around the tree, Mr. Potter now building a roaring fire.
"Alright, you lot. Are you ready to open presents?" Mrs. Potter said as she exited the kitchen. She took a seat in a fluffy arm chair as Mr. Potter hobbled over to the tree and began passing out presents. It was true that my pile was a bit larger than Sirius's, but it was no secret that James had the majority of the presents under the tree. I began to sort through my gifts, wondering which one took precedent in unwrapping first.
"Oh," Sirius said, as if just remembering something. "Open this one first. And don't shake it!" He picked up a medium sized box, wrapped in paper covered in broomsticks and snitches. It was quite light, and I could feel something moving around in the box.
My eyes widened. "Sirius, you didn't!" I said as I ripped the paper off quickly and gently opened the box. A tiny black kitten with electric blue eyes stared up at me, her whiskers a bit askew from romping around in the box. "She's so sweet!" She was small enough to sit in my hand, and she purred as I scratched behind her little pointed ears. I placed the kitten in my lap and hugged Sirius around the neck.
"I thought it would be nice to have a little furry thing around," he said as he scratched her head. "She can keep you company whenever I get detention again." I started to laugh as the kitten curled up into a little ball in my lap. Within half an hour, the floor was covered in colorful paper and bows. I had received from Sirius a tin of toffees and chocolates, a book about magical creatures in the Western Hemisphere, and a pink collar covered in jewels for the kitten. James had given me a sneakoscope and a remembrall. From the Potters, I received bottles of different colored ink (one which changed colors, depending on your mood) as well as a giant peacock feather quill. Professor McGonagall gave me a broomstick servicing kit, which included handle polish, twig clippers and a brass compass. The last gift I opened was from Dumbledore. The note that came with it said, 'I trust you will use this for reasons other than mischief. You will find it serve you well in the times ahead.' I picked up a large, light weight garment out of the box, the fine threads nearly glittering in the firelight. James and Sirius both gasped.
"I've got one of those!" James said excitedly, feeling the fabric and letting it run through his hands.
"That's an invisibility cloak!" Said Sirius as he eyeballed the note from Dumbledore. "What do you reckon he means in this note?" I snatched the note quickly from his grip and shrugged, not wanting to tell him about the talk Dumbledore and I had had in his office earlier that month. The little black kitten was now playing with a bright red ribbon on the floor, tangling itself up and twisting around on its back happily as it mewed. I began to wonder if what I had agreed to Dumbledore would be dangerous. I had really not given it much thought aside from wanting to save Sirius's life when the time came. What exactly had I gotten myself into?
"Breakfast is ready!" Mrs. Potter called from the kitchen as she began to set the table with Christmas plates and red and green napkins.
"What do you mean 'she's from the future?'" Zephyros hissed at Peter, making him jump back in a shudder. He began to shake.
"I'm just saying what I heard. That's why she hasn't been around, and why you've never heard of her. She hasn't really been training dragons," Peter said quickly, as if he was trying to get all of his words out before somebody smacked him across the face.
"I knew that story of hers sounded a bit off," Zephyros said, looking into the corner as if he was pondering over something. "Where is she now?"
"She is spending the holidays at the Potters'," Said Severus with a scowl. Zephyros massaged his hands together.
"I bet she knows many things," Zephyros said quietly, plotting in his head. "She could be a serious threat to the Dark Lord. We must find her at once and—" Snape held up his hand to quiet him.
"Or she could be a great asset," he said calmly. "There is no sense in trying to retrieve her now. Let her enjoy her last few days in ignorant bliss. We will intercept her at the opportune moment." Snape's voice was icy and cold as the winter's day, his emotion as hard as the icicles that formed outside, hanging in front of the windows as if they were trying to listen in on the conversation. He and Zephyros stared at each other for a moment in agreeance. Then Zephyros adjusted his traveling cloak and opened the front door to leave, letting in the cold, blustery air. "You mustn't, however," Snape called after him as he stopped in the doorway, "tell anyone about this. Not even Elektra. We must keep this quiet until the right moment. That means you as well, Wormtail," he said condescendingly as Peter slinked into the corner cowering. Zephyros gave a small nod over his shoulder and exited the quiet house into the blistery morning.