Meeting the Parents
After breakfast they all walked over to the horseless carriages which would bring them to the Hogwarts Express. James and Lily were coming along with them to the station. When the others had put their trunks in the luggage compartment of the train, they stepped back onto the platform. "Well," Brice said. "I guess we'll see you guys again after Christmas."
"Yeah," Lily said as she turned around to hug Mary. "Give my very best to your parents."
"I will. Good luck with the party arrangements."
"Oh, we'll be fine," James said, looking confident as ever. "Now if only Hagrid would hurry up with those dragons. I told him yesterday that two domestic Welsh Greens just aren't going to make the cut…" he continued in a much louder voice as some second year-students passing them overheard him and immediately started to whisper frantically.
Lily rolled her eyes at him. "Geez, not those dragons again."
"But everything is going according to plan, right?" Brice checked as she was putting her hair up in a loose bun.
"Well, I asked Allison if she wanted to be the doorwoman yesterday and she said she had to think about it, but I truly hope that-"
"-She'll do it," Peter interrupted.
Lily looked at him in surprise. "At least..." Peter continued in a more hesitant voice. "That's what she told me."
"And when have you started hanging out with Alison on a regular basis, Wormtail?" Sirius asked with a note of amusement in his voice.
"I'm not!" Peter said, his chubby cheeks rapidly turning into the colour of a ripe tomato. "Not really," he repeated when Sirius was making a derisive sound. "I just ran into her in a corridor."
"Alright then, if you say so." He was slightly narrowing his eyes at Peter but looked amused all the same, before saying: "We'd better hop onto the train or it will leave without us."
They all hugged James and Lily goodbye, wished them an early Merry Christmas and promised they'd all be coming back to Hogwarts on December 30th.
Sirius and Mary were the last ones in line to board the train, and when she stepped up, he placed his hands steadily on her hips and whispered teasingly in her ear: "This time, please try to not lose balance just because you desperately want to feel my hands on you…"
Mary – who had managed to get on the train on her own - turned around and blocked the entrance. "You know, I am this close to leaving you behind."
Sirius cocked his head sideways and adapted his notorious pleading puppy-look. "No, you're not."
Mary rolled her eyes and, hearing the whistle announcing the departure of the Hogwarts Express, quickly pulled her boyfriend onto the train. When the carriage door was slammed shut right behind them, she placed her arms around his neck and sighed: "How I hate it that you're always right."
He smirked and leaned in for a kiss. When they broke apart minutes later, he stated in a matter of fact voice: "You simply cannot live without me anymore, just admit it."
"Hardly," Mary replied cheekily. "It's just that my mum bought all this fancy food and she'll kill me when she has to throw away any of that because you're not coming with me."
Sirius laughed and he pulled her along behind him as they headed over to the compartment where the others were already waiting for them. The journey to King's Cross Station flew by peacefully.
There was just one awkward moment when Timothy, the Ravenclaw student who took Brice to Hogsmeade, stopped by to give her an early Christmas present. Sirius, sitting next to the door, pretty much glared the shy lad out of their compartment. Remus and Peter weren't very hospitable either and simply pretended Timothy did not exist, so Brice had no choice but to step outside in order to speak to him in a less hostile environment.
When Brice returned, she was holding a small package in her hand. She sat down between Remus and Peter, put down Timothy's gift on her lap and stared at it.
"Well… Aren't you going to open it?" Peter asked.
Brice shrugged, bit her lip doubtfully and shot a look at Mary. "I didn't get him anything. Should I have gotten him a present too?"
Sirius was about to give a cheeky answer, but Mary elbowed him just in time and said calmly: "It's not like you agreed to buy each other something, right? I really don't think he expects you to."
Brice picked up the present, held it close to her ear and shook it thoughtfully. Then she placed it back on her lap, still looking indecisive.
"You know", Remus suggested as he pulled out his wand and pointed it straight at the present. "I could blow the whole thing to smithereens right now and be done with it."
Mary noticed that Remus certainly looked like he wanted to.
Brice looked at him for a moment, her bore furrowed. "Thank you, but no, that would be rude. At the very least," she decided while carefully placing the present in her bag. "I'll open it later."
"Suit yourself," Remus said, failing to hide a scowl, before staring out of the window.
Brice exchanged a glance with Mary, obviously wondering if she should ask Remus why he was behaving like such a git, when the train suddenly started to slow down.
"Oh look, we're almost at King's Cross," Peter noted, clearly relieved he was able to break the silence.
When the guys had grabbed their bags and left the compartment, Brice leaned over to Mary and whispered: "What on earth was that about?"
"Looks like Remus didn't appreciate you getting a present from another guy. You can draw your own conclusions from that."
Brice shot a look at the deserted corridor and arched her eyebrows in surprise. "You mean… He could be having feelings for… Noooo, could he?" she asked a little too eagerly.
Mary's eyes twinkled as she swung her bag over her shoulder. "Sure looks like it."
The two of them – Brice looking like she was floating a few feet abovethe ground - walked to the end of the train, jumped onto the platform and headed over to the others waiting near the pillar that would take them to the other end of platform 9 3/4. After returning to the Muggle side of London, they hugged each other goodbye before walking off into opposite directions.
Sirius grabbed Mary's hand and pulled her close to him. "So," he asked as he put his arms around her waist. "Now what?"
"Now, we just have to look for… Dad!" Mary suddenly exclaimed happily.
She broke free from Sirius's embrace and ran over to a tall man standing near a newspaper stand on the platform and hugged him close. Mary's father was a charismatic man in his early forties with shades of grey in his dark brown hair. As he was walking towards them and Mr. Woods looked up, Sirius realized his eyes were the exact same shade of blue as Mary's.
"Ah," Mr. Woods said, letting go of his daughter. "So this is the elusive man who has conquered my daughter's heart."
"Dad, this is Sirius."
When Sirius held out his hand, Mr. Woods took it and they shook hands. It was a rather firm handshake, but he gave him a friendly nod as he did so. "Good day sir, I'm Sirius Black," he said politely.
"John Woods," Mary's father said warmly. "I've heard a rather lot about you, mainly that you're the best thing that's happened to my Mary in years," he said, giving Sirius a wink.
A blushing Mary punched her father hard on the shoulder as she hissed through clenched teeth: "Dad, shut urrrp!", making Sirius and Mr. Woods laugh aloud.
"Seriously," she said, looking embarassed. "He's clearly overreacting."
"That I am," Mr. Woods agreed, patting her on the shoulder, but when he looked at Sirius over her head (which Mary did not see) he shook his head in a joking manner. Sirius immediately decided he liked this man. "Come on now, sweetheart, your mother has prepared a rather hearty lunch and it would be a shame to keep her waiting."
While the three of them were walking out of King's Cross Station to Mr. Woods's car, Mary and her father chatted happily and Sirius enjoyed himself by simply listening to their conversation. He noticed the two of them were very close and that Mary's father was very pleased to see his daughter again.
When they got into the car (Sirius was sitting in the front seat and Mary in the back) and Mr. Woods drove off, he looked at Sirius. "You being from an all-magical family," he asked curiously. "Have you ever been in a car before?"
"I have, sir," Sirius replied. "But that was a flying car."
Mary's father looked mildly surprised. "A flying car, goodness! Do many of you eh… travel by flying objects?"
"Well yeah, but it's mostly brooms though."
"Dad, you should know that, when using the right spell, we can pretty much make every object fly. Cars, bikes, boats, you name it," Mary explained.
"Really now? Extraordinary…"
"So dad, who else is coming to Christmas dinner?"
"Well, there's us of course. And let's see, the neighbours Joe and Judy and their children, my colleague Bruce and oh… great-uncle Carl and aunt Muriel."
"Not auntie Muriel," Mary groaned.
Aunt Muriel was a posh lady who considered almost anything about the Woods family beneath her. Mary was convinced her great-aunt only came to the family dinner, because she believed that celebrating Christmas alone was inappropriate and she and her husband had nowhere else to go.
Mary and Muriel never got along well. The last two years especially had been torture: her great-aunt had repeatedly made malicious remarks that – being such a good for nothing girl - she better had to find herself a suitable man as soon as possible. Well, Mary thought surly, at least I won't have to listen to that crap again.
"Yes, aunt Muriel," Mr. Woods replied, glaring at Mary through the rear-view mirror. "And I insist you will behave yourself this time. So no accidentally-on purpose dropping Christmas puddings on top of her hat."
Sirius snorted, but managed to stifle his laugh in a cough. Mr. Woods attempted to shot his daughter another stern look, but his twinkling eyes were giving him away. He even failed to hide a smile when Mary was staring out of the window and muttered: "The bloody old hag deserved it."
The remaining part of their journey, Mary (and sometimes Sirius) told Mr. Woods about the first half of their final year at Hogwarts. Mary's father seemed very interested in anything magic-related and he asked Sirius many questions about growing up in an all-magical family.
When they had finally arrived at Mary's house and got out of the car, Sirius paused to look around in awe. He had always known that she wasn't poor, but this stately home was more than impressive, even to him.
The Woods did not live in just a house, but in a gigantic old mansion, built in Victorian style. There was at least five hectares of land surrounding the place and right next to the house there was a large barn. A pleasant-looking woman standing near the front door who shouted: "Finally!"
"Mum!" Mary called as she ran over to hug her mother. She was a small and slender woman with the same hair colour as her daughter.
When she looked at Sirius, he noticed her eyes were a warm shade of brown. She smiled at him. "Welcome."
"It's very nice to meet you, Mrs. Woods," Sirius said politely as he shook her hand.
Her smile grew even wider. "Not Mrs. Woods, Pat."
"It's nice to meet you, Pat."
"Now," she said. "You guys must be starving. Come along now, I've prepared the most delicious-"
"-MARY!" a young girl coming out of the barn suddenly yelled.
"Jenna!" Mary called happily and she ran over to her little sister, hugging her tight. "I cannot believe how much you've been growing these past few months."
Sirius witnessed the two of them talking at top speed and he could not help but smile. He noticed that little Jenna was an exact copy of Mary in her first year at Hogwarts. The same slender figure, same mouth and hair. The only striking difference was the colour of their eyes, since Jenna had inherited her mother's eyes. It was already clear that she would grow up to be just as beautiful as Mary.
"Come on, there is someone I'd like you to meet," Mary said as the two of them walked over to him.
"Oh, I know all about you," Jenna said boldly, staring up at him. "You're Sirius Black. The guy Mary used to despise with a passion and now loves, with a passion."
Sirius laughed when Mary rolled her eyes and hit Jenna playfully on the head. "Slightly inadequate recap, but true all the same."
Jenna was now shamelessly eyeing him from head to toe. "You are very handsome," she said.
"Why, thank you," Sirius grinned confidently.
Mary snorted. "Jenna, stop hitting on my boyfriend!"
The girl pulled a face. "Ieuw, I don't like guys! But Sirius," she said seriously, grabbing his hand and pulling him along with her, "I heard you're from a magical family, so I bet you can tell me all about…"
Mary chuckled as she witnessed Jenna pulling Sirius along to the house. She remained behind with her parents. Her mother placed an arm around her shoulder. "What a pleasant fellow."
"Thanks, I know," Mary replied smiling.
"Auntie Muriel is going to be so pleased."
Her mother laughed. "I'm just teasing you. Come along now, love, it's time for lunch."
They spent the rest of the day eating, drinking and talking. Mary also gave Sirius a grand tour around the house and proved to him that making out in a garden shed can be just as exciting as a distant broom cupboard.
While they were having dinner and Mr. Woods was trying to explain to Jenna why it's sometimes better to take someone's tonsils out than leaving them in, Mrs. Woods leaned over to Mary and Sirius. "Oh, I forgot to tell you guys, but with all the guests spending their Christmas here, I'm afraid there is no spare room left. You guys don't mind spending the night in Mary's room together, do you?"
"Not at all," Sirius replied eagerly. "I mean," he said, realizing his mistake and backtracking quickly, "as long as there are separate beds."
Mary's mother looked mildly surprised. "Separate beds?" she said, laughing. "We're not that old-fashioned. Besides, I think I can trust my daughter on this."
Mary raised her eyebrows in surprise but as a second thought, decided to give a less cheeky answer. "Yes mum, of course you can."
After a night of playing games (Mr. Woods even succeeded in learning Sirius how to play a Muggle cards game called Klaber jass), it was time to go to bed. Mary and Sirius, both of age by now, used magic to send their heavy trunks up the stairs. When they were changing into their pajama's, Mary started to feel slightly nervous. From the corner of her eyes she could see Sirius slowly pulling off his shirt and she desperately tried to avoid looking at him.
But of course Sirius noticed. He rolled his eyes in mock annoyance. "Come on, you can look. It's all part of the package."
Mary blushed. "I know that," she said giving herself another moment before finally looking up. In that single second she was staring at his chest, she gaped at his smooth and muscular torso. Could he be any more perfect? She hastily lowered her gaze and muttered: "I er… I'd better brush my teeth."
In the few minutes that Mary was in the bathroom by herself, she stared into the mirror and forced herself to calm down. She just had to relax, nothing was going to happen between them and even if it did, it would be perfectly fine.
She walked back to her room and crawled into bed. Sirius – who was already there – wrapped his arms around her and kissed her on the forehead. "Thanks for doing this," he muttered in her long hair.
Mary lifted her head so she could look at him. "What? Sharing my bed with you?"
"No, although clearly you won't hear me complaining about that. I meant bringing me here and giving me a chance to meet your family."
"I'm glad you came with me. For one thing, at least this year I won't have to face auntie Muriel and her vicious comments by myself anymore."
Sirius smiled at her. The reflection of the moonlight in his eyes made him look so irresistible that Mary broke his laugh by kissing him passionately. He responded immediately by deepening their kiss, pulling her closer and letting his hands waver over her body. He rolled on top of her as he gently let his hands slip under her shirt, softly stroking her stomach, before planting a few kisses down her neck and about to reach a little lower when Mary made him stop by putting her hands on his chest.
Sirius looked at her, his eyes a darker shade of grey than usual. "What?" he whispered urgently.
"I… I don't think I'm ready for this, Sirius."
He stared at her for a moment.
"I'm sorry," she whispered, forcing herself to keep looking at him.
After another pause, Sirius's expression softened and he reached down to give her a gentle kiss. "It's alright, Mare. Don't worry about it."
He pulled her close to him and she relaxed slightly, nestling her head in the tiny gap between his shoulder and his arm.
"Take all the time you need. I don't mind waiting for you," Sirius said softly before kissing her forehead.
Mary reached for his hand and quickly intertwined her fingers with his. "Thank you for understanding," she whispered.
When they went to sleep, Mary focused on the rising and falling of his chest. As his breathing was becoming more steady by the minute, she realized what a lucky girl she truly was. Of course she had always enjoyed spending the holidays at home with her family, but now that Sirius was here with her, she was utterly convinced that this Christmas was going to be the best holiday season yet.
~* End of Chapter *~