chapter eighteen - home sweet home

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Finally, the start of holidays arrived and the Hogwarts Express could be seen from outside the girls' dormitory window. A few students were milling around the train, but it was too early to go in yet.

Lily's bag stood against her bed, packed with clothes and things that she'd need during the two week holiday. Marlene and Dorcas had been awake first, so they currently occupied the showers. Lily stood outside the bathroom, waiting her turn and Laurelle was rechecking her bag for the millionth time already.

The bathroom door opened and Marlene emerged, clothed in leggings with a long-sleeved velvet dress thrown over. Her hair, still damp from her shower, hung over her shoulder.

"In you go, Lils!" She said cheerfully.

Lily looked at her suspiciously before walking inside. Marlene was definitely not a morning person, especially compared to the three girls. Normally she would just stalk past, muttering a good morning until she'd eaten breakfast.

Lily quickly undressed and then stepped into the shower stall. She used her apple shampoo, conditioner and body wash to wash and then rinsed herself off. It was a quick shower, probably twenty minutes. She stepped out, wrapped in a towel, just as Dorcas did.

"G'morning." Dorcas said, ever so politely.

"Morning, Dorks." Lily greeted.

They both got dressed, Dorcas into a dress similar to Marlene's and a warm, cozy jumper and Lily in a mini skirt with a long sleeve wool sweater.

Once everyone had finished, the girls levitated their bags down to the Common Room and claimed the armchairs by the fire.

"So, guys." Marlene said. They all turned to her. "I don't think I've told you guys but my brother, Marcus, he's going to propose to his girlfriend the day before New Year's, and he's throwing a party. Said I could invite a few of my friends so I'm just extending the invitation." She smiled brightly at them.

Dorcas was the first to break the silence. "Finally Mark and Jenny's getting married." They all cheered.

Back when they were still first years, Marlene's brother Marcus had been Head Boy alongside Jennifer Hardley. They'd been dating since their fifth year.

"Is it only us you're inviting?" Lily asked.

"Nope. Those boys as well." Marlene pointed up at the staircase leading to the sixth year boys dormitory.

"Oh," Lily muttered. Dorcas smirked at her.

Laurelle checked the time on her watch. "I reckon we have about fifteen to twenty minutes for breakfast before we have to leave." She said.

They got up, decided to levitate their bags down to breakfast as well and then sat down and began to eat.

"It's funny," Marlene said, swallowing a piece of toast. "You'd expect Sirius and the others to be down for breakfast already."

Lily smirked, hearing Sirius' voice in her head saying that he liked Marlene.

"There they are." Dorcas said and sure enough, four sleepy sixth year boys emerged into the Great Hall and sat down a couple seats from the girl.

"I'm going to tell them about it. Lord knows how happy they'll be to see Mark again." Marlene said and she stood up and walked over to them.

                               ***
"So remember, the day after Christmas, no sooner, no later." Marlene told Lily sternly as they watched Laurelle and Dorcas head off to their family in the distance.

Lily laughed. "I promise I'll remember. Besides, it's not as if you haven't told me for the last eight hours."

They both laughed. Somebody called Marlene and she looked over her shoulder.

"Well, I've got to go now. See you on the twenty sixth." They embraced each other and then Marlene was off, waving over her shoulder. Lily stood on the platform for a while longer, just watching Marlene walk off. When she turned around, she was met with the sight of her beaming mother.

"Mum," she breathed and she ran forward and allowed her mother to incase her in her arms.

"It's been so long, Lily." Mrs Evans began as they broke apart and headed for her mum's small Ford.

Lily looked over at her sympathetically. "Vernon again?"

Mrs Evans sighed. "You have no idea." As they drove home, Lily and her mother exchanged stories of what had been going on in the almost four months they'd been apart.

"He's absolutely horrid, Lily." Mrs Evans complained. "I don't know what Petunia's doing, marrying such a arrogant, conceited walrus." Lily laughed as the car turned the corner into her road.

"Is Dad home?" Lily asked.

Mrs Evans sighed. She looked older, Lily noticed, and had worry lines etched on her forehead. "He's just resting." At Lily's worried look, she held out a hand. "He got attacked with a bad case of the chicken pox."

"Oh, that's terrible." Lily said, feeling sorry for her father. She opened the car door and climbed out, picking her bag up from her feet. Mrs Evans locked the car door and they made their way up the drive.

Home sweet home. Lily thought bitterly as soon as she stepped inside and heard Petunia's high-pitched laughter on the phone.

"Mum!" Petunia shrieked. "Is that Ver - oh, it's you." She glared at Lily, who offered a friendly wave. She'd long ago given up on hugging Tuney.

Mrs Evans sighed for the third time since Lily had seen her. "Oh, well, welcome home, I guess."

                              ***

Dear Lily,
I'm not sure when this owl is going to reach you but I send it Christmas morning . Anyway, how's home so far? Is Petunia already being a prick? I'm having quite the time at home; Sirius and James came earlier than I expected, because their mum and mine are super mega close, as you know. So far, the worst that's happened is that Mark 'accidentally' set one of James' bloody snitches on fire. The big baby nearly peed himself, even though he has about a dozen more. Also, he simply can't WAIT to see you, as I heard him tell Sirius last night (I totally wasn't eavesdropping). We all miss you and can't wait to see you, Dorcas and Laurelle.
Hugs and Kisses, MarleneM

Lily laughed and hugged the letter to her chest. She'd been helping her mum and Petunia prepare for Christmas Eve dinner when an owl had flown into the kitchen window. She'd opened it, allowing it to hand her Marlene's letter. Petunia had been in a right state ("Get that thing out of the kitchen!") but Mrs Evans had rubbed the owl and cooed at it.

Lily dropped the letter onto her desk and began to comtemplate over whether or not she should back. She didn't really have to, seeing as she'd be seeing Marlene in just two days. On the other hand, Petunia was already messing with her and it was irritating her to no ends.

She decided to write back.

Dear Marlene,
I got your owl, but only around seven o'clock. Anyway, I'm SO jealous of you! You seem to be having the time of your life while I'm stuch here listening to Petunia's great big mouth blabber away. Fortunately, my mum is allowing me to stay until the holidays end, so YAY! Anyway, are you and Sirius getting along good? Did James say anything about me? Tell Mark and Jenny I say hi and that I'll see them on the twenty sixth.
Love from all my heart, Lily

She was just adding a cute little heart when her mother yelled up, "Lily,  time for dinner. Some guests are here, so dress nicely, please."

Sighing, Lily searched her wardrobe for nice clothes. It was going to be a long two days.

                               ***

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