There are rolls of wrapping paper across the floor, silver and red and gold, covered in stars and dancing Father Christmases. Lily sits among them, presents stacked neatly beside her and tries her very best to stay in the Christmas spirit. It's one of her favourite holidays, one of her very favourite times of year, but this time around, the war's getting worse, people she loves are dying and being merry gets harder and harder every day.
She squeezes a roll of tape tight, closes her eyes and can't imagine this Christmas being so holly jolly but Merlin, she doesn't want to be this way, wants to see the positives even as everything gets darker and darker. She sighs, tries to focus on wrapping but her mind keeps wandering, a thousand terrible headlines in the Prophet, too many funerals and sleepless nights.
She was happy last Christmas, excited and pumped and it feels wrong, the cold chilling her bones. Lily cuts wrapping paper mechanically, hears the floor creak and that's when James comes in, cheeky grin firmly in place.
"I can't believe you started without us," he says, mock upset and she frowns, pulled out of the melancholy resting on her shoulders.
"What do you mean?" she asks and James' smile grows.
"You're always telling me that one of your favourite things about Christmas was wrapping presents with your family. Well, here we are, ready to wrap and you've already started. Tsk, tsk." He shakes his head and Lily's eyes go wide but before she can say anything, there's Sirius and Remus and Peter, squeezing into their living room, presents and roles of wrapping paper in hand. James slings an arm over a grinning Sirius' shoulders, tilted Father Christmas hat on his head, Remus shakes himself, hair still damp from the snow falling outside and Peter stumbles slightly, only the top of his head visible behind the stack of gifts in his arms.
They're all smiling at her and she feels her heart start to expand, glow bright with Christmas cheer.
Moments like these, they make being merry the easiest thing in the world.
Lily drapes tinsel over the tree, makes it shine silver and James unpacks the ornaments, carefully pulls them out of boxes and packaging. He places them on the coffee table and Lily picks them up one by one, hangs them on the sparkling tree. There's no uniformity to their decorations, just a mish mash of homemade ones from childhood, special ones representing memorable moments, generic ones bought en masse at the store. It's a little eccletic, a little hectic but Lily likes it, thinks it feels more real, more personal this way.
It may not win any awards for aesthetic, but she wouldn't change it, not a bit.
She scoops up an ornament she doesn't recognize, frowns as she reads what's written across it.
Baby's First Christmas
"James, this won't be good till next year," she tells him, because yes, she's pregnant, but their baby won't be born until the summer, will have to wait until Christmas 1980. James stops unpacking, shakes his head with a grin.
"Nope. I mean, sure they're not born yet, but they're still here," he insists, places a hand on her stomach. Lily raises an eyebrow but James just smiles a little wider. They stare at each other for moment and finally Lily rolls her eyes and gives in, hangs the ornament on the tree where everyone will be able to see it.
"You're ridiculous," she tells James over her shoulder and she can't see him, but she knows he's beaming, proud and smug. He hugs her from behind, chin resting on her shoulder and she can feel his breath on her neck, warm and smelling like peppermint.
"You picked me," he points out, hands splayed over her stomach and Lily smiles, leans into him.
"You bet I did."
A lot of things have changed since last Christmas, but one thing that hasn't?
Mistletoe is still Lily's favoutite tradition.
(and James is still a phenomenal kisser)
The Order's Christmas Party is a perfect disaster.
James gets the single ugliest Christmas jumper of all time from Dedalus and wears it proudly, struts around the room like a peacock and Lily laughs, laughs like she hasn't in weeks.
Sturgis plays very bad music, singing along off key the entire time and James waltzes her across the room, dipping and spinning while a tipsy Marlene tries to teach a reluctant Frank and Benjy a routine she learned in a long ago dance class. Emmeline offers unwanted pointers, Frank scowls and Benjy tries and fails to escape, trips over someone's forgotten shoe.
Sirius squeezes himself under the Christmas tree, declaring "We forgot one!" as he finds a heavy present and then he wiggles out, his pine needle covered rear shaking at each of them. James snorts, nearly chokes on his eggnog and everyone crowds around, excited to know who it's for.
Remus waxes philosophical in a corner while Edgar challenges one and all to a drinking contest, loses easily to a smirking Dorcas. Gideon makes lights and fireworks burst from his wand to celebrate and accidentally sets Elphias' fuzzy hat aflame. Lily tries to help put it out but Elphias is in a panic, waves his hands about like a giant bird while a slurry Gideon apologizes profusely to a confused and rather annoyed Aberforth.
Caradoc tells the same story he always tells at parties, loud loud loud and Peter knocks into every single thing he walks by, nearly bumps the equally clumsy Alice into the punchbowl. Frank tries to help but Marlene still wants him to dance and McGonagall is red faced and giggly, so unlike the professor they grew up with. Hagrid and Fabian mangle the lyrics to several Christmas carols, Dumbledore observes them all with a smile and Moody prowls around the room, tries to lecture but is always ignored.
Lily snuggles into James' chest, forgets about war, forgets about bad dreams, forgets to be afraid.
Maybe there really are such things as Christmas miracles after all.
"Morning," James murmurs, lips warm on her cheek and Lily smiles slightly, blinks open her eyes. White sunlight lights their bedroom and Lily doesn't want to move, is far too warm and cozy in bed.
"Happy Christmas," James continues, lips moving closer to hers. Her arms find their way around him, hugs him near and then he's kissing her, starts her Christmas morning off right.
A little later they'll go downstairs, eat cinnamon buns and drink hot chocolate, unwrap presents and light a fire to warm the room. A little after that, the boys will arrive, snow ball fights will ensue, presents and a Christmas feast to follow. Lily can't wait, really, but this right here, snuggly and safe with the man of her dreams, is something she never wants to end.
And it won't. They've got years and years, until they're gray and old and soon there'll someone else too, the little baby growing in her stomach. I love you she thinks at both of them, giggles as James slides down, gives her stomach a loud kiss.
"Happy Christmas," he tells their baby with a grin and most people might not think this is much, but Lily thinks this is her favourite part of Christmas.
She's with her family, they're safe, they're happy and they have forever before them.
What else could she want?
She has everything she needs right here.