"For Christmas? Oh, I just stayed in the flat." - Page 2

"For Christmas? Oh, I just stayed in the flat."

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Re: "For Christmas? Oh, I just stayed in the flat."

Post by Apollo Zabini on Thu Mar 02, 2017 3:54 am

That song I mentioned::

Waking up to kiss you and nobody's there
The smell of your perfume still stuck in the air
It's hard
Yesterday I thought I saw your shadow running round
It's funny how things never change in this old town
So far from the stars
...
If the whole world was watching I'd still dance with you
Drive highways and byways to be there with you
Over and over the only truth
Everything comes back to you


Apollo couldn't recall the last time he'd felt so comfortable, so content. It was as he walked towards the canopied stand set up to sell trees that he thought about it again. Again, that is, because he'd recognized the fact before falling asleep and then again when he woke Lily up, stretched and returned to the kitchen.

He'd thrown on a shirt at some point and changed into trousers, and then stood at the door as he bid her farewell. "Take your time," he'd told her in an effort to make his patience and trust clear more subtly than he had done before. It was as they broke their kiss and he winked at her good-naturedly that he understood what he would end up giving her for Christmas. It made perfect sense.

So he strode down the street with purpose, aiming not for the tree first, but for the shop he knew was run by a wizard who could help him. Luckily, the man was amenable to doing so without Apollo having to pay him more, as he had prepared to. That taken care of, he offered a shockingly genial "Thank you," before finally going down to pick out the oldest, saddest tree he could find.

As requested.

Apollo wandered around for a time, trying to fit Lily's description. At the back of the tent, there was a door that led to the flower shop attached, where they had a series of smaller ones. Perfect. And there, at the very back and hidden away in a corner, was a wonderfully strange and lopsided pine. It was a bit big to carry, he thought, but then when he pointed it out the shop owner laughed.

They cleaned up the bottom and wrapped the tree up despite not having much to tie in netting, though it certainly made carrying the poor thing easier. It was a good thing, though, that he wasn't far from home. One of his neighbors came in with their fiancé, and Apollo gave them a casual wave which turned into him stopping and introducing the two young men. Despite having had every intention of returning home quickly, he knew that Lily had things she needed to get done anyway, and now that his gift was out of the way, so he lingered.

By the time they said their goodbyes to pick out a tree, Apollo was actually grinning. At one point, he'd even let out a surprised laugh - short, almost a bark of a laugh, but a laugh nonetheless.

This was the mood he and Lily should have had. It was Christmas, they had time to themselves, and things were going so well. She might decide that his gift idea was stupid, but he didn't particularly care. He'd done his best, really, and he didn't expect her to really take the piss because of it.

Or, he hoped she wouldn't..

But either way, he picked up the tree and stomped his way through the snow and back to the flat, suddenly irked with his decision to avoid the first floor apartments. On any other day, he would've hated living where so many people could walk right past, but Merlin, he did not want to climb those stairs. Sighing, he trudged up and fumbled around for his keys before pushing the door open and walking in backwards so he could drag the tree with him. It wasn't until he turned around that he realized Lily was already back.

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Re: "For Christmas? Oh, I just stayed in the flat."

Post by Lily Luna Potter on Thu Mar 02, 2017 4:39 am

Lily made quick work of her errands.

She wanted to be home when he came back. She wanted to make it apparent that she could not wait to return to him. So she apparated, fortunate to have magical transportation on her side, landing in the middle of her apartment. She hadn’t been in it since before the start of term, having preferred her staff lodgings to the miserable state of the home she had chosen for herself when she had no sense that she deserved anything more than the bare minimum. She had tidied it, at least, before she left, and she was able to find a small backpack quickly.

The backpack was filled quickly with her toiletries, some clothes (but certainly not enough to neutralize the need to curl into his jumpers), and the one object she had certainly not planned on picking up anytime soon. She cast one look around, as though she would never return again, and found herself sincerely looking forward to the day where she could leave the apartment behind.

On to the task she wasn’t as keen on.

It took only a few minutes to confirm that Teddy’s place was empty. He had a bad habit of leaving every light on while he was home, but always turned them out when he left. Not a light shone through the curtains and Lily fingered the key in her pocket. It had sat on her bedside table for months, Teddy’s words surrounding it like a ward – ”You’re always welcome.” She did mean it. She would talk to him soon. She had faced the possibility that she might have to tonight, if she wanted to get the present for Apollo that she had decided upon. But sometimes fate was kind, and tonight it decided to do her the favor of putting off their reunion, for just a little while longer.

She crossed the street, self consciously flipping the hood of her jacket up as though there were spies peering behind curtains, and reached his door. She quickly made her way in, locking it behind her and made her way across the landing, pausing at the kitchen door thoughtfully. She couldn’t help it. ”Accio cookies.” And soon she was tucking a packet of the dry cookie dough into her bag, before making her way to the storage closet.

She reached up to pull the string that illuminated the bare bulb of the closet, quirking her lips as she sidestepped some luggage that hadn’t seen any action in years. Behind the boxes of childhood mementos and old school books were the Christmas boxes. She shrunk one at random and it too went tumbling into her bag.

And then she was climbing the once-familiar stares to the room that had been hers once upon a time. She suspected that he might have cleared it out, sold everything, and converted it into a study. But she knew better than that.

Apparently, she didn’t.

The light flicked on and Lily frowned slightly. The sheets had been changed, the room rearranged, a poster put up. A pair of boots had been kicked off at the foot of the bed, and she could see clothes peeking out from the closet door. An open suitcase revealed someone in the process of unpacking – or maybe packing. And Lily felt an unpleasant clenching in her stomach.

And then it released. Good. Teddy needed people in his life that would actually stick around. If he had found someone who needed his help, she didn’t have a right to begrudge him that.

She should have turned around immediately, left the room untouched before she completely impeded upon the privacy of Teddy’s new flatmate. But that’s when she spotted the one part of the room that had remained unchanged.

Back at Apollo’s flat, she pulled out the Christmas decoration box and returned it to its original size. She rummaged through her bag to find the cookies, which she started, before taking out her toiletries and placing them as unobtrusively as she could on his bathroom sink counter. She turned to pad back out to the living room, but paused in his bedroom doorway, considering, considering… yep, she was going for it.

So when the door opened, and she was busy hanging up a ratty old strand of multi-colored lights, the first thing Apollo might have noticed was how she had draped one of his blankets around her shoulders. She turned, the smell of cookies in the air, spots of red and green and blue and orange freckling her face and highlighting her hair. “Hey.” She gestured vaguely towards the work she had done. Some garland hung on the telly. A jovial santa doll perched on the window sill. “I’ll never make it as a window dresser. But you can’t say I didn’t try.”
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Re: "For Christmas? Oh, I just stayed in the flat."

Post by Apollo Zabini on Mon Mar 06, 2017 1:26 am

Apollo pulled up short when he turned and took in the room around him. Lily looked a bit unconvinced by her decorations, but he let out a pleased laugh anyway. "What are you talking about? This is the best decor I've ever seen."

A lie, she would likely presume, given his mother's overboard party. But he found that he actually meant it, mainly because it fit their tree perfectly, and because she'd taken the time to do all of this herself.

Turning back around, he kicked the snow off of his shoes on the doorstep before shutting the door and shedding his jacket. It landed with a thud on a short table where keys and things usually went. He paused, frowning at it for a second, before crossing the room towards the fireplace.

"You cold?" He asked, properly noticing the blanket she'd wrapped around herself. Crouching down, Apollo reached into the basket off to the side of the hearth, pulling out fire-starting materials. Even if she wasn't, really, perhaps a fire would help inspire more of that holiday feeling. "You may have to charm this to keep it from getting the tinsel," he added, gesturing above his head.

Something else hit him, while he was piling logs on top of the grate. She was baking something. He stopped, looking up at her with a bemused smile. "If I didn't already know you had magic, I'd be starting to suspect it."

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Re: "For Christmas? Oh, I just stayed in the flat."

Post by Lily Luna Potter on Mon Mar 06, 2017 2:07 am

He probably would have approved of a single strand of lights, if she had made sure to hang it with good intentions and careful thought. She didn't think he pandered to her, or lied to make her feel better, and she wouldn't do the same to her. They weren't the sort to placate, not even each other, but all of the struggles that had gone through had inspired a supportive streak between them.

Objectively, it wasn't much. But there was something nice about it, really, considering how few Christmases she had looked forward to. She had never decorated with the intention of making a place seem more home-y for someone - honestly, she couldn't remember the last time she had even decorated for any holiday. Like so much else in her life, it was for him.

She twisted to look at him, the blanket swirling around her legs and she heaved a shrug, a mischievous look on her face. Mostly, she had just wanted to wrap up in something of his, wanted to take on a more comfortable look.

He began to get a fire going and she finished hooking up the lights, stepping off of the chair she had been using to reach the corner of the room. He turned to look at her, grinning at her about the cookies. She crossed to him, slipping her arms up his shoulders and around his neck. "Don't be so impressed yet. You haven't tried them." She grinned and leaned up to press a kiss to the side of his mouth.
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Re: "For Christmas? Oh, I just stayed in the flat."

Post by Apollo Zabini on Mon Mar 06, 2017 8:12 pm

His arms slung themselves low around Lily's back, and her warning would've been enough to draw out a wider smile, if she hadn't distracted him. Instead, his lips twisted into a pleased smirk. "Maybe I wasn't really impressed. Maybe I was just trying to get you to kiss me."

Apollo's smile widened as he leaned down to close the gap again before she could chide him for his quip. "Besides," he went on as he pulled back and returned to the fireplace, "how badly can someone really mess up cookies?"

A laugh, a fire and a few actually quite decent cookies later, Apollo was lounging on the couch with one foot on the ground and the other down the length of the cushions. Some movie or other was on, but he was more focused on the way Lily was laying back against his chest and the task of brushing scattered bits of glitter out of her hair. Somewhere in the back of his mind, Apollo wished that he had a pensieve so he could tuck away the memory of how Lily looked when he walked in the door that afternoon. He'd need it, soon.

And later, when they had let the tree settle enough to start decorating it, Apollo made a point to ask if any of the decorations she'd brought held any significance for her. Of course, that discussion slowed him down a bit, considering where they'd come from. Though he doubted she intended it, that won her a series of gentle kisses before he moved to stand behind her, arms around her waist and chin on her shoulder as she hung up the nicest one.

That was when he suggested they stay up late and go ahead and give each other their gifts at midnight rather than waiting. Because what was the point, if it was already Christmas Day by then and they had no real plans for tomorrow, anyway? So by the time the end of the day rolled around, Apollo was sitting forward on the couch, staring at the telly. One of those Muggle cooking competition shows was on, but the episode was based around moulding sugar, and he just didn't understand.

There was no way in the world that those people were Muggles, he'd declared before flopping back against the couch again and shaking his head. It wasn't until the show ended that he realized what time it was. Apollo took up the remote to turn down the volume, but left it on in the background.

Propping his arm on the back of the couch, he leaned his head against a fist and looked over at her. "So. At the same time? Or should we take turns?"

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Re: "For Christmas? Oh, I just stayed in the flat."

Post by Lily Luna Potter on Tue Mar 07, 2017 1:05 am

These private little moments would soon become a pool of memories she could drag herself to when she felt wearied by the world. Being a professor was lonely, especially when she felt hardly old enough to be one, and she didn't exactly have any friends on the staff. She had, fortunately, grown used to the solitude, but there would be something sad in knowing whose company she could be if their circumstances were different. So these moments - the feel of him against her back, the light kisses to chase away regrets, his fingers working patiently through her hair - these would get her through.

It was almost jarring to realize this was the most festive Christmas she had had since the year after her mother died. Teddy had tried the next year to keep up their Christmas traditions and it had been... not just the cliche 'not the same'. It had been bad. For all their sake, he hadn't tried again. Instead, she and him would order a dinner and exchange gifts between them, dropping on on her brothers to drop off gifts before they all went their separate ways. They hadn't felt like a family. It had felt wrong to play pretend once a year.

Did Apollo already feel that much like family? She was transported back to another night, not nearly as cold, when she felt as though she would never be able to convince him to let her into his shop, let alone his life. She had been certain she had missed her chance, spending too long punishing herself, too long trying to forget, much too long to just come back. And it nearly had been. She wondered where she would have been if he had not let her inside. If he had told her to leave when she gave him a choice.

Her eyes were on him as he frowned at the muggles on the telly, reaching out to brush his shoulder affectionately.

Her eyebrows raised at his question, distracted momentarily by the sensation of being so casually and comfortably in his gaze, before she remembered their agreement. "I'll go first," she said, her hand brushing his as she stood up.

It was back to her bag she went, and she brought the entire thing with her, sitting on the couch, folding one of her legs under her as she reached into the bag to feel around for the object. Once it was in her grasp, she looked up at him.

"I stole this," she admitted. "From Teddy's. To be fair, he gave it to me when I was starting to try to figure out what I might want to do - he gave me basically a book on everything, because that was sort of his solution to anything. Anyway. Right. Basically gave it away already. Whatever. The point is, I think you'll get more use out of it."

She pulled out a book and held it out for him, turning it so he could read the cover.

The Healer's Handbook.
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Re: "For Christmas? Oh, I just stayed in the flat."

Post by Apollo Zabini on Tue Mar 07, 2017 3:40 am

Apollo didn't really understand why it was so easy to go from sound to silence to something so personal. Or were gifts even personal, these days? His parents hadn't really gone out of their way, but he felt like he had done well with Lily's gift. That didn't mean, though, that he was ready for her to stand up and offer go first. What if his was bad after hers and she felt let down?

His pulse jumped a bit, but she already looked nervous, and Apollo didn't want to make it worse. As she explained, his lips pulled up into a gentle smile, realizing she must have stopped off earlier on despite her anxiety about seeing her brother. But that was nothing compared to his reaction when she turned the book over.

His jaw fell open slightly as his breath hesitated in the back of his throat. But he sat up properly, pulling a leg underneath the other one as he reached for it. No, this wasn't the most astounding gift in the world, but it was perfect.

Yep. His gift was gonna seem stupid.

His fingers closed around the spine, drawing it towards him so he could flip open the cover and glance through the pages. This was something that he had planned to buy come summer break, but Lily presenting it to him was worth infinitely more. It meant that she supported him when others did not, and though she probably didn't agree with everything he chose, she wanted this for him. Apollo set the book down between them and reached for her instead.

"Thank you," he breathed against her lips, nudging her nose with his as if that would silently convey how much he loved her. Pulling back, an almost sneaky look flitted across his face before he lifted the book once more. "Put your name in it," he requested. "With the year. ..I know I won't forget this, but.. Still."

He set it down in her lap and reached for a quill pen, handing it to her as he got up. Apollo snatched up his jacket from the table he'd dropped it on earlier, then reclaimed his spot on the couch. One of the inner pockets had been extended earlier that day, so he had to dig around a little - probably looking a bit odd in doing so - but in the end he pulled out two wrapped objects, tied together with ribbon.

"I had to get a bit of help with the jacket, though I don't think I'm going to undo that extension charm," he said, dropping the jacket on the floor by his feet. "But," Apollo went on, turning towards her again, "I had... no idea, actually, what to get you. Until we left this morning. Then I was sure. I just- I'm still sure it's decent but it definitely isn't anything like what you--"

He shook his head, swallowing before starting over. "Listen, I don't know much about giving gifts. It's not something that my family understands, I don't think. So while I've sort of gathered," he explained, his voice slightly teasing, "that they're typically meant to be for a specific person, I didn't really go that route."

He offered the packages to her, waiting for her to open them and find two nondescript, blank journals. Only when she glanced his way again did he continue.

"For the next six months, we won't get to talk to each other. Not really, and not nearly enough. And, while I wish that weren't the case, what you're doing with Ace and Christian is important. Or, as I understand it, it seems to be. But-- I thought that maybe we could both write in one of these until summer. Whatever we want to say but can't." Was his throat feeling a bit tight? He cleared it. "And, I don't know what your plans are for once school lets out, but Merlin if I don't intend on finding you as fast as I can..." Apollo drew in a steadying breath before shrugging a little, resigned to the fact that it was a bit odd and probably didn't reflect the person most people believed him to be.

Who was he, anyway?

A muscle in his cheek jumped with the effort of maintaining some sense of calm. "And when I do, I'll give you mine, and, and then we can catch up on everything we've missed once you give me yours."


Last edited by Apollo Zabini on Tue Mar 07, 2017 9:06 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: "For Christmas? Oh, I just stayed in the flat."

Post by Lily Luna Potter on Tue Mar 07, 2017 4:10 am

She almost didn't want to look at him, because part of her had become so certain once she had decided on the gift, and if she had accidentally hinged her hope upon a certain reaction - she just wanted a nice Christmas. She didn't want any weirdness or feelings of disappointment, and if the pounding of her heart while she explained the gift was any indicator, she really wanted him to like it. Because it wasn't just a book. It was a reminder that she knew him, she loved him, she wanted to support him the best she could. Even if it was just a book.

But she was so glad she was brave enough to keep her eyes on him.

A breath expelled from her lips, pushing her lips up into a smile of relief that only grew warmer as he inspected the book, a look of surprise and excitement fighting for precedence on his features. She didn't often get to see him look so happy about something, as their topics of conversation were almost always pulled to something unfortunate, something outside of their control. And thoughts of the future were hostile, as of late, as the future only held uncertainty and distance.

But she was investing in his future. She was encouraging something that made him happy. Merlin, they needed that encouragement sometimes. And it seemed that he appreciated the full scope of her gesture.

She leaned into his embrace, feeling warm to have pleased him so. He withdrew and she smiled, taking the quill and obliging him, warning, "You better make sure not to lend it out to any classmates. Our whole story will fall apart." But she handed him back the book.

She didn't care what he had gotten her. She'd be happy with a hat. She'd be happy with a card. Watching his face light up when she, essentially, re-gifted him a book she had stolen from her old home... He had already given her a gift.

If his tone didn't betray his trepidation, his words certainly did, and her face softened as she watched him, once again grateful for this very private, rare look into the Zabini boy who so often displayed an entirely different demeanor. She hadn't known this version of Apollo the year she scratched him. She hadn't known him to be capable of uncertainty or worry, to apologize for his upbringing. She had grown to know him so much more in just a few short months, but it still sent her reeling in the best way.

Her lips parted as the purpose behind the gifts became clear, slowly but surely, and her voice caught in her throat, her hand reaching out to take one of the journals. Her heart was beating, hard and steady, threatening to break through her ribcage. How could he have doubted this gift? This gift that would help alleviate some of the problems the pair of them would face, a gift that would give far longer than just for the next term. To have his words with her, always.

His voice caught and her eyes jumped back up to his, and she could see the emotions struggling to remain behind the surface. Just minutes ago, he had been rolling his eyes at muggle bakers. The journal slipped from her fingers as she pushed herself forward as she exhaled his name, reaching for his face as she pulled him into a kiss, a kiss that held none of the doubts or fears in his voice, as he fell back onto the couch as she didn't stop kissing him because she didn't think she could if she wanted to.

For the moment, the journals were abandoned for more pressing matters. Later in the night, she would remind him how tickled she was by the gifts, how perfect they were, how perfect he was. Wrapped up in the ecstasy of young love and escapism, they'd fall asleep without any of the impatient excitement that usually accompanied Christmas Eve slumber, neither one pleased as the clock kept ticking towards their inevitable separation. Then the journals would take on a new importance, become an important lifeline for the two lovers, set adrift by circumstance.

But for now, they had this. And it was everything.
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