Christmas morning. Severus groaned. Christmas had pretty much been a more painful reminder than usual of his poverty and his parents disgust with his existence. The only presents he had ever gotten were from Lily and Lucius, but this year he was certain there would be none at all. Perhaps he should just stay in his room and avoid the festivities that would surely only dig the knife in deeper.

Severus ran his fingers over Lucius's letter still stuffed in his pocket recalling the book about on curses and hexes Lucius had given him for Christmas first year.

An eager rapping on his door jerked Severus from his thoughts.

"Christmas breakfast is ready, Severus," Granger called through the door.

"Not hungry."

"It smells delicious and you know Ms. Wesley will drag you down regardless," Granger badgered.

Severus sighed knowing that Granger was right. It was going to be a long day. Severus followed Granger down the stairs, sweet aromas wafting up the stairs from the kitchen. Granger was right, it did smell delicious.

"Breakfast and then presents," Ms. Wesley beamed as Severus and Granger entered joining the others.

Severus clenched his teeth, hopefully he could escape before then. It had been bad enough watching his roommates tear into mountains of presents, but at least he had a couple and they weren't Gryffindors. Severus forced himself to eat an acceptable amount of the food Ms. Wesley laid out. She truly was a phenomenal cook, but Severus' stomach was revolting more than normal to the fatty meal.

After breakfast the teens and Black raced into the living room, the other adults following behind, and Severus prepared to slip upstairs. Unfortunately, he hadn't realized that Granger had hung back and was now practically herding him into the living room. This girl had control problems, Severus thought irritably. Black glared at Severus when entered and Severus glowered back refusing to show any weakness.

Potter and the youngest Wesley boy were nominated to disperse the presents. Severus was shocked when Wesley dropped two presents onto his lap and even more so when Potter deposited two more. One was from Ms. Wesley and supposedly the rest of the Wesley clan, another Professor McGonagall and Madame Pomfrey, the next Granger, and the last present, most surprisingly, was from Potter. Severus felt slightly guilty having not gotten them anything, but he couldn't have known. He had always made certain he got Lily something and had made Lucius a helpful potion as a gift.

Ms. Wesley's present was a hand knitted Slytherin green sweater with a note thanking him once again and wishing him a Merry Christmas. The gift from his professor and the mediwitch was a chess set, Granger's gift was a book about potions and arthminacy. The girl smiled a little embarrassedly at him when he opened it.

"I thought you would find it interesting. It's a bit advanced," Granger said. Severus couldn't help feel a bit indignant, she knew how competent he was. "The arthminancy not the potions," she added flusteredly.

"Thank you, Granger, it looks intriguing."

She beamed and Severus knew the girl would soon be pestering him to discuss the book's contents with him and oddly the thought wasn't entirely unappealing.

Severus had saved Potter's present for last. Although Potter had been decent when they had been in the potions lab, Severus was still suspicious of his motives.

Severus carefully removed the wrapping paper his confusion only growing when he saw the present - a cookbook and a handmade one at that.

"I cook a lot," Potter said clearly having noticed that Severus had opened his present. That could be why Potter had such good intuition, Severus thought. Cooking and brewing were different, of course, but Severus couldn't deny their similarities. "There's a fun cookie recipe towards the back," Potter added.

"Thanks, Potter," Severus said curtly not knowing what the spawn of his archenemy was playing at.

The morning had gone immensely better than Severus had imagined it would and the sick feeling in his stomach had dissipated. He settled onto his bed and began to flip through the book Granger had given him prepared to find the book beneath him, however, to his surprise the book tossed around concepts of which he had little grasp. Disgruntled, Severus studied the pages, determined to understand the theories without Granger's help.

Absentmindedly, he stuck his hands into his pockets, soft and empty. Empty… Severus's stomach dropped. Malfoy's letter. Frantically, Severus ransacked his room praying to Merlin that he had left the letter in his room and simply forgotten. But Severus knew that wasn't the case. Things had been getting a bit better in the lion's den, but now he was royally screwed.

HPHPHP

Fred and George had been pleased to see that little Snape had gotten several presents and felt they maybe they should have gotten the kid one too. George who had been sitting next to little Snape noticed a folded wrinkled piece of paper resting on the cushion. He picked it up.

Severus,

How are you old friend? I write to you because your recent abrupt disappearance has left me greatly concerned. If you are in need of assistance, do not hesitate to ask. I will do my best to assist you.

Sincerely,

Your friend

Lucius Malfoy

Post script: Do not forget who your true friends are.

"What's that, George?" George's mum asked. George froze a moment.

"Joke shop stuff, mum," his twin said without missing a beat.

"Yep," George agreed thankful Fred had rescued him seamlessly.

"Let me see it," their mum ordered.

"Molly dear, let the boys have their privacy," their dad said camly.

George eyed his mum not expecting her to give in to their father's request.

"Very well."

George let out a quiet sigh of relief - mum was giving in because dad was still getting back on his feet.

Twenty minutes or so later Fred and George managed to escape to their room.

"Care to share, Georgie?" Fred asked as soon as they door was shut behind the pair, quirking an eyebrow at George mischievously.

"I think you should read it for yourself," George said his somber expression wiping the smirk for Fred's lips.

Fred took the letter from George's outstretched hand and quickly read it.

"Merlin's beard, what do we do?" Fred and George coursed.

"Moody and Sirius would go nuts," Fred said.

"They all would."

"Do you think he responded?"

"How could he?

"How did it even get in?"

The twins paused in their questioning and their eyes met.

"Not adults, not yet," they chorused.

"First we talk to the kid," George said.

"We'll hear him out… then figure out what to do," Fred confirmed, his face unusually serious.