Originally meant to be a one-shot for the holidays. This ran away and decided to become a series. I think. It all depends on you, the readers. Leave it where it is, or continue?
This time of year always softens my heart a little, but this year more than before. Exactly eighteen years ago, Lily Potter invited me to her house for a Christmas Eve party. James was in an uproar for a week after she told him. And the mutt, well, he was less than pleased. Lupin didn't seem to mind, and appointed himself Black's mediator. Looking back, I now see how odd Pettigrew had been acting, and I curse myself for not seeing the signs of his treachery.
I arrived, as usual, on time and Lily opened the door holding the child. Not a soul in the Nine Hells would ever know this, but he was rather cute for a slobbering infant. He was less than 2 months old, and already his potential showed. As I walked in, I received odd stares from most, if not all, the assembled party. Lily offered me a seat near the fire beside her and someone, I believe Lupin, handed me a cup of something called "eggnog."
The party lasted for hours, and as per a Potter tradition, everyone was allowed to open one gift. Surprisingly, I was handed a small package addressed from Lily. On top, a note, with the words "to be read in private." I discreetly tucked the note in my robes so no one would ask questions, and waited for my turn. As usual, Potter and Black opened each other's gifts, and laughed as they had each gotten the other the exact same thing.
Lily opened her mother's gift, a pair of wool socks for the baby, and a gift for the child from her. The boy, Harry I remembered, was delighted at the Gazing Globe from his mother. Inside swirled images of his family, immediate and distant relation, and he and his parents could insert memories as he grew.
The next event, though I am loathe to admit it now, was my fondest of that night. The bell rang, and Lily dropped the infant in my lap. The "Marauders" were off delighting in some prank pulled on the unsuspecting guests, and most were occupied with other things, thankfully. I looked down only to find the boy's emerald eyes looking at me in wonderment. He reached out a tentative hand to my nose, then to his own. Little did I know, Lily was behind me the entire time, having returned from the prank bell ringing, and was watching in delight. What the boy did next still amazes me. He reached to my left arm and placed his tiny hand directly over the Dark Mark. His brow furrowed in confusion, then understanding filled his face. Lily must have sensed my discomfort for she swiftly removed the child from my grasp.
I quietly and quickly removed myself from the scene, after bidding goodnight to Lily and thanking her for the invitation. Swiftly, I returned to the castle and removed the letter from its safe place. I sat in my armchair and opened the letter from my long-time friend.
My dear Pureblood,
I am very glad that you came to the party. I'm sure James was too, in his own way. But he and Padfoot were probably off playing jokes, so he most likely didn't get a chance to tell you. (She always had that sixth sense, probably some sort of seer really.) I just wanted to tell you this. I have a weird feeling in the pit of my stomach. Something is going to happen; I know it. James calls it "post-natal paranoia," but he doesn't understand. You know how much he despised Divination. Actually, you two are a lot alike, yet so different.
Severus, please don't take this lightly. If something does happen to James and me, as I feel, then I wish you to know this. Sirius is to be the boy's godfather, a request of James', and Moony has already promised to look out for both of them. But when Harry attends Hogwarts, Padfoot may not be able to look out for him there. I wish you to do this. I know how much you detest Gryffindors, so he will not suspect you. And if he is anything like James, he will not want pity or anyone fawning over him.
If you must, you may tell him only after he graduates, perhaps on his eighteenth Christmas.
Please Sev, I only ask this of you as a friend, a dear friend. And I pray that you will be safe in your journeys, for I know your road is long and rough. My thoughts and prayers are always with you.
Now, eighteen years later, I find myself reading this very same note. The boy, Harry Potter, now an Auror-in-training for the Ministry of Magic, graduated Hogwarts this last June. Lily was right, he was a Gryffindor, and above all else, he loathed everyone's pity of him. In the year after the Dark Lord's return, Harry's fifth, he came to me. He wanted to know of all the things I had done as a Death Eater, and what was to be expected of him. Even now, I cannot figure why he came to me. Albus says it was because no one else knew. But I believe it was because he knew; knew what Lily had asked of me. I still wonder why I talked with him, why I didn't yell, take points, and send him back to his tower.
We sat and talked for hours that night. He told me about almost being sorted into Slytherin because of Voldemort, about how he and his friends thought it was I who was after the Sorcerer's Stone. He even told me of Black's escape from the tower, how he had felt when everyone shunned him his fourth year for being in the tournament, and of Diggory's death. This last was hardest for him, as the grief was still near to him. But as always, he didn't want pity. He wanted understanding.
In turn, I told him of how I became a Death Eater; how Lucius had made it all sound so glamorous, the power, the riches, and the fame. My first kill, an innocent Muggle-born, who did nothing to offend except having been born into a Muggle family. My confession to Dumbledore, and his offer of a teaching position. At first, I did not want to be a spy, for fear of my own life. But as the time grew on, I realized I would have to. I could no longer keep my sanity otherwise.
At one point, I had to get up and go into my private chambers, and when I returned, he had fallen asleep on the couch. As I looked at the hour, I realized why: it was past midnight. The Headmaster and other Heads of House came to my chambers after the midnight bed check. Now, I wish I had had a camera; the looks were priceless. Without a word, I woke him up and the Headmaster escorted him back to his dorm.
Since that night, I believe he understood why I was so nasty to him. Sometimes, he would come back for talks, using his Invisibility cloak. In his seventh year, he defeated the Dark Lord, and I was free. But he still came back, only without the cloak.
This year, and I'm sure years to come, he writes. Frequently, I receive letters from him. He is doing well. Dating the Granger girl, he says. This Christmas Eve, I have invited him over, as Lily did me all those years ago. A knock on my chamber door alerts me to his arrival, and I answer.
"Merry Christmas, Professor." I stand aside, allowing him entry.
"Merry Christmas, Mr. Potter. Did I not include Ms. Granger's invite as well?"
"Yes, sir, you did, but you never invite me anywhere. I thought it must be important, so she decided to go to her parents' house early. I will be joining her there tomorrow."
"Tomorrow?" We sit on the couch and Dobby brings us mugs of eggnog. I have grown rather fond of the drink.
"Headmistress McGonagall permitted me to stay overnight here. My first real Christmas was here, and I'd like to wake up one more Christmas morning at Hogwarts." There is something he's not telling me, but I let it pass. Hearing Minerva addressed as such is still unnerving, as is my new title as Deputy Headmaster. "By the way, congratulations on your new title, Professor." I allow myself a small smile. "What is it?" he asks.
"I was thinking of my title as well. You've inherited your mother's gift for seeing things beforehand." He grimaces in remembrance of Trelawney, who had turned out to be a Dark Witch. "Your mother gave something to me, a letter, which instructed me to do something she considered important. That is why I have called you here tonight." I pull the letter from my pocket and hand it to him. I sit quietly as he reads his dear mother's words. I know not when he finishes, but I sit in silence for many minutes. Finally, I hear him whisper.
"So it was you."
Again, my eyebrows rise in question. "Mr. Potter?" He looks up, tears forming in his eyes.
"In my first year, when Quirrel jinxed my broom, we thought it was you."
"Yes, you told me as much."
"Later, I found out you had saved me. He told me that. But the rest of the time, in my other years, there were times when I thought that I should have died, but didn't. I never knew why, though I suspect Dumbledore did."
"Yes, I never told him, though that man had a way of knowing things." I allow myself a small laugh. "There is also something else. Black and Hagrid were not the only ones that arrived at Godric's Hollow that night. After hearing of the attack, I went, in hopes to retrieve something of Lily to remember her by. I found something in your room, lying next to her body." I reach into an inside pocket and pull out a small round object. "I've kept this, in hopes of one day returning it to you." I hand him the Gazing Globe, with a note with the words "to be read in private" inscribed in delicate handwriting. He smiles and tucks the letter into his robes.
He holds up the object, and his smile widens. I know what he sees; I have seen it every Christmas since that night. The first scene is of his first Christmas, sitting in my lap. The next, Black and Potter teaching the boy to "high-five." His first steps, his first words, his first smile, all recorded in this small orb. The last memory, the night before Halloween, was his mother sewing his first Halloween costume while his father read him a book. He pockets this item as well, and turns his smile on me. It must be contagious, for soon I find myself unable to maintain my stoic expression.
"Thank you, Professor. This means a lot to me." I merely nod in response, suddenly unable to speak. "Truth be told, I brought something for you as well." He pulls out a bundle, and I unwrap it. It is potion ingredients, powdered horn of a bicorn and shredded skin of boomslang, and I look up quizzically. "In my second year, Hermione, Ron, and I stole some ingredients from your storeroom to make a Polyjuice Potion. We used it to sneak into the Slytherin common room as Crabbe and Goyle. We wanted to see if Malfoy was the heir of Slytherin."
"Malfoy?" I scoffed.
"Well, it seemed presumable at the time. Anyway, I wanted to replace them. And apologize. Over the years, you were the unwitting recipient of jokes and insults from most Gryffindors, Hufflepuffs, and Ravenclaws. But that's going to change soon."
"Oh it is, is it?"
"Headmistress McGonagall has offered to allow me to be an assistant teacher here. I'll be learning under Professor Flitwick, and when he retires, I'll take over his position."
"That's wonderful news, but how exactly is that going to help my situation?"
"You'll see Professor. You'll see. Sooner than you think, in fact. I start this coming term." He stood and held out his hand, and I copied him.
"Goodbye Mr. Potter. I look forward to working with you." I took his hand, noting the firm grasp, a sign of confidence. He smiled and nodded. He walked out, presumably to his room. Before shutting the door behind him, I heard him mutter faintly.
"A confidence you instilled."