The Season of New Beginnings

Disclaimer: Harry Potter, characters, names and indicia are trademarks and copyright to Warner Brothers and JK Rowling.

Warnings: This story contains SLASH, which means a male/male pairing. If this offends you, please read no further. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. The author accepts no responsibility should this fic offend anyone's ideals.

Pairings: Harry/Draco, Ron/Pansy, (Boy) Blaise/Hermione

Spoilers: All published works…I think…I'll say that just in case!

A/N: Hey guys! This was up for a while (like 3 hrs) as a chapter of my collection of PWPs I am writing. The idea is therefore the same one…Secret Santa, but they are two very different pieces of work, I promise you that. This is still my first attempt at anything that is not angsty, but it's not exactly fluff!!

This story is a one-shot and I hope that you guys like it!

As always, thank you to all my readers and especially my reviewers: your comments mean the world to me!! I also have to thank Tanny for telling me to post this up anyway, even if I wasn't using it as a chapter for my other fic! Also, I have to thank her for helping me come up with the name of the fic…Thanks mate, you're brill!

Onto the story then! My Christmas present to you all!!

The Season of New Beginnings

"Morning, guys!" Hermione greeted as Ron and Harry settled into their seats either side of the brunette. It was the first day of the holidays, yet Dumbledore had asked all students staying to be present at breakfast that morning.

"Please 'Mione. How can you be so chipper this early?" Ron groaned, laying his head down on the table, careful to avoid getting any food in his hair. Harry just mumbled something which Hermione took to mean 'hello.'

"What on earth could be so important that he drags us out of bed on the first day of the Christmas break like this?" Ron continued to grumble.

Hermione shared amused looks with Seamus Finnegan, who was sitting opposite her. Seamus laughed, used to Ron's antics, having shared his dorm for the last six years and one term. Beside him, sat Lavender Brown and Dean Thomas, next to Lavender was Parvati and opposite her was Neville. Hermione's smile became an almost grateful grin. The Gryffindor Seventh Years had been particularly lucky: their number had not diminished during the War; yet they'd all changed. Parvati had lost her twin sister, Padma. She was no longer as loud and gossipy as she used to be, yet she was recovering, slowly but surely.  Neville was no longer the clumsy boy he used to be; rather he was one of the War heroes. The Weasleys had lost Percy, and Arthur had been crippled. The family cheer had remained, albeit dimmer than before, in Percy's memory.

Harry had lost Sirius, the only father figure he had ever known, as well as Remus, his last connection to his parents. He had seen things a seventeen year old should never have had to see; they all had, but guilt lay most heavily on Harry's shoulders: guilt for those he could not save, guilt for the pains of those left behind – survivor's guilt. His eyes rarely lost their haunted look, although as time passed, he had been coming back to himself more and more.

She was snapped out of her reverie by the sound of Dumbledore clapping his hands; all eyes turned to the Headmaster.

"As such a large number of you have stayed behind this year," he began, "I believe that, with the War now behind us, it is time for all of you to enjoy your lives as children should. To encourage both this and to improve interhouse relationships, I have decided to organise a game of Secret Santa." Murmurs rose from all corners of the Hall as Dumbledore continued. "Please stay behind afterwards if you wish to participate."

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

"Oh my god…of all the people in the world…" Hermione trailed off as they left the Great Hall, apparently speechless. Everyone had just picked the person they would be Secret Santa for from a hat. The players had been divided into two groups, First to Fifth years, and Sixth, Seventh Years and teachers.

Ron was still laughing at Hermione, as he had been ever since she'd read out who her partner was; he hadn't gotten around to reading his own yet. "I can't believe you got SNAPE!!" he chuckled before dissolving into another fit of laughter.

"Go on, Harry," Hermione glared at her black-haired friend who was unsuccessfully hiding his snickers, "laugh at me. I know you want to."

"Oh, if you insists," with that said, he joined Ron in sniggering at her misfortune.

When he'd finally stopped laughing long enough to open his parchment to see his partner, he stared at it…and stared some more. "Oh you have to be kidding me…" He looked up at his friends wide-eyed. "I got Malfoy…"

That was all the encouragement Ron needed to begin all over again.

"Ronald Weasley, shut up! Who did you get then," Hermione shot at him smugly. Ron, however, couldn't stop laughing so he handed his parchment to Harry to read for him, gesturing for him to read it out loud.

Harry cleared his throat dramatically. "You are required, Ronald Weasley," he announced, and then smirked at Ron. Ron began to look a little nervous; Harry was enjoying this way to much, "to adorn the following recipient with gifts." Harry paused again for effect. "You are pansy Parkinson's Secret Santa." He finished with a grand flourish and chucked the piece of parchment back to Ron; Harry and Hermione nearly died laughing at the look on Ron's face as he stared, god-smacked at the piece of parchment.

"Of all the…Oh NO!!" Wailed Ron, "Hermione…I haven't the faintest clue what to get a girl, let alone Pansy." Harry sniggered some more as Hermione patted Ron in the back, saying 'there, there' but trying her hardest to keep a straight face. It was rather obvious; a known fact within Gryffindor, that Ron had a thing for the Slytherin girl. Hermione and Harry giggled the whole way back to the tower, teasing Ron all the while.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

A couple of mornings later, the Hall was filled with chatter at breakfast time as everyone waited to see what the owl post would bring them. Secret Santa had officially begun. As the morning post came in, it was almost as if the Owlery had been emptied of owls as the birds swooped down, each with a small parcel.

Hedwig landed on Harry's shoulders gracefully as Pig flew into Ron's cereal and a school owl landed in front of Hermione. Harry untied the gift from Hedwig's leg, and gave her a strip of bacon. She nipped his ear affectionately before flying off. Ron was still struggling with Pig as the small owl flew around him, and Hermione was already reading the note attached to hers.

The package was neatly wrapped in green wrapping paper with a small tag attached.

'To Harry,

Here's the first of many gifts, straight from me to you. All the thanks I'll ever need is for you to smile a small smile for me.

With sincerity,

Your Secret Santa.'

Harry stared at the elegant handwriting; he was sure he'd seen it somewhere before, yet he couldn't place it. He almost smacked himself as he remembered Dumbledore mentioning that they wouldn't be able to recognise the handwriting no matter how well they knew it because of a spell…of course, otherwise it would ruin the whole game!

He turned his attention to the small package. Carefully, he opened it and tears came to his eyes as the present appeared from its nest of wrapping paper. It was a snow globe; but what caught his attention were the figures within it: a white stag, a black grim-like dog and a silver wolf playing in what looked suspiciously like the Forbidden Forest. It had been custom made, he was sure of it and, as if in confirmation, there was a small engraving on the base.

'Harry,

For you to always remember with a smile, not with tears. They are all together now as they used to be. Do not mourn for they are free'

He smiled and whispered a small thank you to whoever his Secret Santa was; it must be someone who knew him really well.

"Harry, what did…oh," Hermione breathed as she caught sight of the gift. "It's beautiful."

"Yeah, it is, isn't it," he smiled up at Hermione, eyes glowing slightly, losing some of it's darkness; only a small bit, but it was still something. Hermione murmured a small prayer-like thank you to whoever Harry's Secret Santa was for the small miracle.

"What did you get Hermione?" Harry asked, still smiling at her, clutching the globe like a lifeline.

"Oh," she blushed a little, having been caught off guard and showed him her gift: a red fading to gold quill and a single white rose.

"Oh look at this!!" Shouted Ron on Harry's other side, holding up a complete pack of Chudley Canon Team Quidditch cards. "These are meant to be really rare, especially a complete set!! Whoever my Secret Santa is, I LOVE YOU!!" He shouted the last part to the whole Hall and everyone, including the Slytherins, burst out laughing.

Hermione took the time Ron's distraction gave her to scan the room unnoticed. Her eyes first landed on Professor Snape, who was looking at the book she'd given him in something akin to awe. It was a book that she'd ordered at the book shop in Hogsmead a while ago; a very old and rare Potions book. She figured she could borrow it from him after he was done with it, or she could send an owl off to Flourish and Blotts, as she now knew the owners, to see if they could get their hands on another copy for her.

At the Slytherin table, Pansy was looking delighted at having received the crystal unicorn earrings Hermione had told Ron to get for her. She also had a slight blush on her cheeks and was getting a ribbing from Draco and Blaise who were sitting either side of her, looking anywhere but at Ron; Hermione had a feeling she knew who Ron's Secret Santa was. Draco was clutching something tightly in his hands. It was Harry's present to him: a small, yet intricately designed, black dragon figurine. Hermione knew for a fact that it cost Harry quite a bit, but when she had mentioned it, he had shrugged telling her that it was the only thing he could think of to get Malfoy. Hermione was rather suspicious there too.

Hermione shrugged mentally and went back to conversing with her friends. All these things would surface in due time, meanwhile, she would watch and she would wait.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

A few days later the Hall was once again flooded with owls as the second round of Secret Santa that required a large gift came around. Harry had been steadily getting happier and happier as the days had progressed. Each owl from his Secret Santa, one came everyday, had contained a small token and a note that told him to smile, to lay the demons of his past to rest. Each day the notes would tell him to remember the dead and forgive himself as they would have wanted him to; to live the life he still had to live; to honour their sacrifices. Almost everyday the note was a hand painted card and came with a red poppy to honour and remember those that had died. With it would come a bar of Honeydukes' best chocolate, a box of Chocolate Frogs or some such small gift. Harry seemed to find a small bit of peace every time he received something, and each time, Hermione thanked every deity there was that Harry's Secret Santa was who it was.

This day was as before; Hedwig landed with her usual grace, now seeming to be familiar with the routine, delivered her package and took off. The same school owl that had delivered all her presents so far landed in front of her, and Pig flew to Ron, this time landing in his pumpkin juice; never once had he successfully landed in anything dry.

Harry slipped the card out of its envelope, taking the time to look at the beauty of the design, it was a watercolour picture of him, Hermione and Ron as they wrestled in the snow – it was a scene from the day before. He was already smiling as he opened the card.

'Harry,

Never frown, even when you are sad; you never know just who is falling in love with your smile.

Remember: whatever happens happens for a reason. Let the past stay in the past; your place is in the future.

Keep smiling; I like it better when you smile.

With love,

Your Secret Santa.'

His smile turned into a small grin at the words and he unwrapped the present with the same care one would use when handling the world's most expensive crystal. His eyes lit up as he extracted the contents from their wrapping; a book and a dream catcher. As Harry read the front, tears of joy gathered in his eyes and he flipped through it quickly and, having seen what he wanted to, showed it to Hermione, eyes practically glowing.

"What is it Harry?" She inquired as she bent over to look at it; unable to hold in the small gasp that escaped as she saw what it was: a year book. Not just any year book, the year book of James and Lily Potter's last year at Hogwarts.

The note at the front simply said:

'Harry,

So that you will never forget.'

"Oh, Harry…" Hermione breathed. Harry was looking at his other gift: the dream catcher. There was a note attached to that as well:

'For you, so that you will always have sweet dreams.'

Harry was positively grinning with delight now; the shadows in his eyes were almost unnoticeable as he turned the pages of the year book, eyes bright with unshed tears, waving a little at each picture of his parents, Sirius or Remus.

Hermione thought, yet again, of who Harry's Secret Santa could be. Who could have the connections to get such a thing? Who knew Harry well enough to know exactly what he needed to hear? Her sharp eyes scanned each House table for anyone who seemed to be paying any attention to Harry's reaction. Then she saw it. She saw something that made her blink rapidly in surprise.

Draco Malfoy was sitting at the Slytherin table, staring at Harry with a small satisfied smile on his face. His own present sat untouched on the table in front of him.

"Oh, who would have thought…?" Hermione whispered, smiling to herself. If what she guessed was true, Harry would be having a happy Christmas indeed.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

After breakfast the same day, Dumbledore decided that the snow was finally thick enough to have a snowball fighting tournament. It was to be a mixed House tournament; four teams picked by captains, all of who are in the same house. The teams were to be kept for the rest of the holidays as Dumbledore had decided to have tournaments of just about anything he could think of. The captains were to come from Slytherin (it had been picked out of a hat by Dumbledore): Draco Malfoy, Blaise Zabini, Pansy Parkinson and Millicent Bulstrode.

Harry had almost withdrawn into himself; when they used to pick teams at his old school, he was always the last to be picked. He hated this kind of thing with a passion, which is why it was such a surprise when…

"Potter." Harry's head snapped up to stare incredulously at Draco, who responded by simply raising an eyebrow and gesturing for Harry to join him. Still in a daze, Harry went. The crowd had started to whisper as the Hogwarts most renowned rivals since Gryffindor and Slytherin themselves stood side by side and began discussing teams. Hermione hid a knowing smile.

"Granger," Zabini's voice rang out. This time, Hermione nearly got whiplash.

"What?!" She stuttered intelligently.

"Care to join me?" Zabini was unfazed. The whispering raised another notch; Slytherins picking Gryffindors by choice? It was unheard of!

The whispering rose to a deafening pitch as Pansy's voice cut over the crowd, clear as crystal: "Weasley, side with me?"

Ron and Hermione exchanged mystified glances before shrugging and joining their team mates. Harry was too busy planning with Draco to notice.

Millicent picked Anthony Goldstein. Draco picked Neville (Professor McGonagall almost fainted; Snape did.) Blaise picked Terry Boot. Pansy picked Seamus. Millicent picked Hannah Abbot, and the list went on until everyone had been teamed up. Goyle ended up with Draco and Harry, and Blaise got Crabbe. The teams were really mixed.

At Dumbledore's whistle the Black team (Draco's) and the White team (Blaise's) began their fight, and the Blue (Pansy's) and Red (Millicent's) began theirs. It was evening by the time the tournament was complete; Black team's victory.

"Naturally, Potter," Draco said, arm slung casually over Harry's shoulder as if they had been friends for years, not bitter rivals. "The team had you and me; there was no way on earth we could lose!"

Harry laughed. "Oh naturally! Who would have thought, huh, Malfoy, that you and I could work as a team?" Draco laughed good naturedly, and the two continued their friendly bantering.

Hermione was busy talking away with Blaise about some theory or another, and Ron and Pansy were discussing the intricacy of strategy and its importance in every day life.

They were still talking in these pairs at dinner; the Gryffindors having moved to dine with the Slytherins on their invitation.

Professor McGonagall and Professor Snape were goggling at the small group, Crabbe and Goyle having sat down to join them, mouths gaping open, along with the rest of the school. The little group, however, seemed oblivious to the attention.  

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

"This is it," Hermione said as the two boys came down from their dorms, holding a couple of packages in their hands each. It was Christmas Day; the day they told their identities to the person for whom they were Secret Santa. The trio had continuously received gifts from their Secret Santas and they had sent out theirs almost daily. Each day, after breakfast, they had had a tournament of some sort and today was also the day they would know the results from the tournaments so that efforts could be redoubled in preparation for the final results before the others returned.

They had opened a lot of their presents earlier that morning but had agreed that they would open each others presents later – when the Slytherins were there. In the last five or so days, the one group was never seen without the other. They had presents for each of the Slytherins but had yet to give them to them.

They strolled leisurely into the Great Hall and seated themselves at the Gryffindor table when they saw that the Slytherins had yet to arrive. Hermione headed over to the Head table when she spotted Professor Snape strolling into the Hall, package in hand.

Harry watched as she spoke to the Potions Professor, and shared a grin with Ron as the professor's face turned from his sneering self to an expression of awe, followed by a smile of thanks. They exchanged gifts and Hermione practically skipped back to the table. They chatted amicably between themselves until Harry spotted a familiar blond entering the Hall.

"Draco! Over here!!" He shouted, beckoning the Slytherins over. Everyone around them moved around to make room for the newcomers. As soon as they were seated, they began chatting animatedly with each other, each unknowingly nervous about whom their Secret Santa was. Vincent was the one to break the deadlock.

"Hey, I see Lisa. I'm going to head over and tell her okay?"

"Yeah, sure," Blaise said uncertainly. After closing his eyes and sucking in a deep breath, he pulled put his package and thrust it at Hermione with a, "HermioneI'myourSecretSanta."

Hermione blinked stupidly at him for a moment. "Blaise, I thought we were giving presents 'till later…" She trailed off before her brain made out the jumble Blaise had said. "Oh…Blaise," she squealed before promptly throwing herself at him.

Meanwhile, Pansy and Ron had decided to reveal themselves at the same time, and were currently making googly eyes at each other. Draco and Harry shared a smile.

"She's been mooning after him for ages," he laughed. "Shall we?" Draco asked, gesturing to the door. Harry smiled and nodded, standing up after him. They walked in a comfortable silence until they somehow reached the lake.

"Harry…" Draco began a little uncertainly.

"Hmm?" Harry saw Draco fidgeting out of the corner of his eye, "What is it, Draco?"

"Uh…I'm your Secret Santa…" He said suddenly, and then resolutely looked anywhere but at Harry. Harry could understand why Draco was nervous about admitting it though; the notes he received from the blond had been getting more and more personal, each one practically screaming that the blond cared very much for him. He had been beginning to fall in love with his Secret Santa, yet he had feelings for Draco. Suddenly, Harry burst out laughing.

Draco looked up and met Harry's eyes for a split second before all but running away from him.

"No, Draco! Wait!" Harry shouted, trying to stop laughing. He successfully manages to grab the small blonde's hand before he could flee too far.

Draco was mumbling incoherently now and Harry caught fragments of what he was saying: "I'm sorry…I shouldn't have…I'm such a fool…Please let GO!" Harry realised with a start that the smaller boy was crying. When he thought about the reason, he nearly killed himself laughing, making the blond struggle to get away more.

"Oh Draco, you git!" He managed between his giggles.

"Please let me go; I already said I was sorry," he whimpered trying to pull away.

"Draco," Harry sighed, exasperated. He tilted Draco's chin up with a slim finger, making the blond look him in the eye. "I'm glad it's you, silly!"

"But…Why…?" Confusion clouded the silver orbs, still shining with tears.

"Because I thought I was starting to fall for my Secret Santa which could have been a real problem seeing as I had already fallen for you," Harry explained, eyes glowing with happiness. "I'm very glad it's you."

Draco's eyes slipped shut as Harry closed the distance between them and captured Draco's lips in a searing kiss. Their lips met again and again, until Harry broke away, grinning at Draco.

"I guess you can have both presents then," he said, ginning impishly, handing over the two gifts he had in his hands. Draco blinked at him. "I'm YOUR Secret Santa as well."

At this point, the others had finally found them.

"You two could have at least told us…Oh…" Hermione was cut off mid-rant as she spotted the two of them holding hands and laughing. "Finally figured it out, have you?" She finished, lips twitching slightly, trying not to smile.     

Her breath caught as Harry turned towards them, giving them the most radiant smile they'd seen since before the War, and pulled Draco closer, slipping an arm around the blonde's waist.

Ron looked shocked. "If you hurt him…" Ron shot at Draco and Draco shook his head, telling Ron without words that he'd rather die. Happy, Ron turned to Harry. "He makes you happy?" He asked him bluntly.

"Very," Harry replied without hesitation and pulled Draco into a heart warming kiss, his emerald gaze free form shadows at long last.

Finite Incantatum

A/N: There we are…all done! What did you think? Loved it? Hated it? Couldn't care less? Let me know!! Please, take the time to press that lil' button there and let me know what you think of it…Reviews are valued like water to a man in the desert, whilst flames will be used to warm my hot chocolate.

Anyway, check out the fluffier Secret Santa (which is coming soon!) in my (soon to be) multi-chapter fic 'Ready, Steady, Play!' and my other fics if you have some time to kill! I love you all and MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

~*Dea*~