Annis, this receipt was taught me by my mother, and she by hers, and so on; may your family enjoy it and may your children learn it at your knee
Sirius and Lily had been put to work scrubbing and drying apples; the apples were passed along to James, who studded them with cloves.
place ye onne quill cinamome, allspice, onne blade mace, two pods cardamome in a fine cloth bag
Remus had mixed the spices, and now he and Peter were tying them into muslin squares with kite string. They worked efficiently side by side. They were easy with each other, able to joke with only a word or two, triggers that conjured up memories bright as sparks.
take ye sidre equal to three persons
The cauldron had been set up on a rusty iron tripod that Sirius had brought from who-knows-where; the cider was a gift from Remus, who had been in apple country, apparently. The spices Lily had picked up in a drab grocery four towns away. James had built the fire and bought the fireworks: he had an affinity for fire and explosions these days.
ten cloves in onne apple
James chewed on a clove as he worked; it numbed his tongue and sharpened his eyes. He made patterns with the cloves in the apples, the first an L, the second an H, the third a J. Harry sat on his knee. There was an apple peeled and cored and sliced, sitting on an orange plastic dish in front of them. Harry ate slowly: his eyes were transfixed by the flames.
add honie if the sidre be not sweet
They moved to an unvoiced choreography. James and Lily orbited Harry by turns, one becoming his satellite when the other drifted off. There was none of the initial panic or frustration: Harry's first birthday was a quiet celebration of their surviving the first real crucible of their relationship. Remus and Sirius avoided looking at each other, talking to each other, speaking of each other; and James, Lily, and Peter were accessories to this subterfuge. At all times one of the three stood between them, directing eyes and thoughts away. They circled the fire, stars fixed in their unalterable paths of happiness and anger, suspicion and love.
add lemons and oranges sliced, if ye have any
Peter watched the cider carefully, watched the convection currents move the bobbing apples, the wheels of lemon and orange, the ghost-like balls of spices. He thought it was like a machine, gears driven by the heat. He had never really understood machines, the intricacies of cause and reaction, the mysterious sources of power. He had his magic, that was always ready and waiting for him; he liked that he didn't have to think of where it came from.
hete until ye can barely hold in it a finger, and kepe that hete until thicke and sweete
As darkness fell, as it became harder to see, all eyes were drawn to the fire, damped down to keep the cider from boiling. Harry played on the heavy woollen blanket with his wooden race cars and aeroplanes, attended by Sirius; James and Peter bent their heads over the carton of pyrotechnics; Lily checked her wristwatch again; Remus wandered out of the clearing into the woods, out of sight.
add brandye and serve
They raised their cups in a toast to happy years to come, to friendship and to tradition. The cider was liquid heat, spreading out to the tips of chilled fingers and toes. It tasted of places where winter was not, where days did not shorten and nights did not lengthen; it tasted of hundreds of suns on thousands of apples, of the struggles of the men and women out of whose ashes they rose. It tasted of a promise, of a future.
Annis, I remain alwyse yr loving mother