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Make My Christmas Perfect

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Lily ran a hand through her tangled hair and sighed. This was supposed to have been the perfect day.

She’d had it all planned out — she’d wake up early and put the fire on while cooking up a nice breakfast for her and James. They would eat together while Harry slept. When he woke up, they would trade presents and let Harry help rip the wrappings from the small gifts they’d bought for him. Later in the evening, Sirius and Remus and Peter would come over for a lovely but raucous meal filled with delicious food and lots of laughter. And at the end of the night, she and James would once again sit by the fire, cuddled together, basking in the happiness of their life.

But none of that was going as planned.

Instead, Harry woke Lily and James four times during the night with his cries. They had taken turns trying to feed him and comfort him, falling into an exhausted sleep themselves in between.

And instead of waking up early and preparing the perfect little breakfast, she had slept too long, spilled the orange juice, burned the eggs and realized she hadn’t even cleaned up the kitchen from the night before.

And now she was holding her crying child, tears of her own in her eyes, while wearing a stained dressing gown as she stared miserably at the corner of their sitting room where their little tree sat, full of candles and sparkling ornaments and surrounded by little gifts she hadn’t yet had time to wrap.

“Lily?”

She startled, almost dropping the baby and causing Harry to let out a fresh wail. She turned, sheepish, to face her husband.

The instant he saw her face, his smile vanished, worry taking its place across his face.

“Lily?” he repeated. “What’s wrong?”

She tried to wipe the tears from her cheeks. “I’m fine.”

“No, you’re not.”

She glanced back over at the tree and the unwrapped presents and then down at Harry, his pajamas also stained with milk. Finally, she looked back up at James.

“I just wanted us to have a nice holiday,” she said. “The way my parents always made a nice day for Petunia and me.”

“Oh, Lily,” James said. He stepped closer to her, putting one hand on her arm and the other on Harry’s head. “This is the perfect holiday.”

A sound that was half a laugh, half a sob escaped from Lily’s body. “James Potter, are you blind?” she said. “The house is a mess, the presents are unwrapped, none of us are clean …”

“And that’s what makes it perfect,” James interrupted, now grinning again. “We’re a family. And this is what a family looks like!” He waved his arm around. “I would never want it any other way.”

She stared at him, then shook her head, amusement starting to creep in. “Only you would find this perfect.”

“I find you perfect,” James said. “And Harry.”

Despite herself, Lily felt her cheeks flush. “James Potter,” she said, “you always have been quite the charmer.”

“You’re supposed to say I’m perfect too.”

Lily laughed. “Sure, you’re perfect too.”

“Great,” James said. “I’m glad you think so. Because the guys are going to be here in an hour with presents for Harry. They didn’t want to wait until tonight …”

Lily stared at him, an urge to both laugh and cry billowing up inside her.

She decided to laugh.

--

Fourteen hours later, Lily and James lay curled together on the couch in front of a small fire, Harry asleep in his cradle beside them.

The house was messier than in the morning — wrappings strewn everywhere, dirty dishes in the sink — and her outfit had new stains on it. They never did wrap every present nor make all the food they had planned. But it didn’t matter. They had talked and laughed and ate and drank and played with Harry all day long.

It wasn’t the perfect Christmas she had imagined, but it had been the perfect day, and all she could wish as she and James slipped off to sleep was that every Christmas after would be just as perfect as this one.