I just discovered on rereading my chapters, that I made a mistake about when Eileen got or hadn't got her wand back. Will fix later.


Chapter 43

Yule Be Happy

Fed and watered, the guests of the Serpent's Tongue were all content, except for the youngest. There was one more thing that all of them were waiting for. They did not have long to wait. Close to seven o'clock a man dressed in red and white, with long white hair, and a long sliver beard, came bounding into the pub. "Ho, ho, ho," the man bellowed.

Toby took this opportunity to polish off what was left on the buffet table.

Most of the children called out, "Father Christmas!" The Muggles didn't even notice that this man was a bit thin to be Santa. While the other children ran towards the man, Mike Stone stayed put, being too old and 'worldly' to believe. One other boy didn't run to Father Christmas. Severus ran to his mother.

"Mum," he whispered. "That's not Father Christmas."

Eileen knew her son would not be fooled. Not because he didn't believe, but because he recognized the man for who he really was. At least it wasn't a Muggle pretending to be Father Christmas. The question she knew he was forming came out. "Why is Fessor Dumbdoor pretending to be Father Christmas?"

Mrs. Snape was wondering that herself. A friend of Joe's, named Tripper, was supposed to be playing Santa. She couldn't help wonder if it wasn't a coincidence that her old teacher was there instead. She told her son, "I expect the real Father Christmas is busy flying about, leaving presents all over the world. I suppose he's somewhere around Australia about now. It's Christmas there before here."

"That's not fair."

Meanwhile, the fake Father Christmas, who was a real wizard, was making gifts appear out of nowhere. This impressed the Muggle children to no end. Even Mike Stone was trying to figure out how the old man was doing the trick.

"Don't worry," Ele reassured Sev. "The real Father Christmas will find our house." Severus didn't look convinced. His mother pointed out, "That doesn't mean you can't get a present now."

"S'pose," Sev mumbled. He waited until all the Muggle children had gone off to open their boxes.

"Ah, Severus," Dumbledore, a.k.a. fake Santa, said as he winked. "Didn't know you would be here."

The little wizard frowned and said skeptically, "You know we live near here." That was not really what Sev was wondering. "Why are you doing magic in front of Muggles? Pretending to be Father Christmas."

"I'll tell you a secret," Dumbledore whispered. Then he knelt down to Severus' height. "I like to help Father Christmas out because Christmas Eve is the only time I can use magic in front of Muggles."

The boy wondered at this. He had never heard, or read, anything saying that Christmas was any exception to the statute of secrecy. Dumbledore added, "Christmas Eve is a magic night for everyone."

"Even Muggles?"

"Even Muggles. And little wizards." A box wrapped in Christmas paper appeared in Dumbledore's hands. "This one is for you."

"But you said you didn't know I was going to be here."

"Then it's a good thing I can do magic, isn't it?" He held the present out for the boy. He could tell the boy really wanted to take the gift, but something was holding him back. "It really is for you." The boy took the box and was retreating back to his mother again.

"Dumbdoor says this is for me."

"Then it must be. Open it up."

"What if it's something the Muggles shouldn't see?"

"I don't think he'd give you something Muggles shouldn't see in a pub packed with Muggles."

The boy finally felt safe to tear the paper off, and flip up the flaps of the box. Inside were some Muggle coloring books, and Muggle crayons. A big box of Muggle crayons. On closer inspection Severus saw that even though they were Muggle books, the subjects of them were as close to wizard things as one could get in the Muggle world. What Muggles would call 'make believe.' The one that caught the boys attention was one entitled, Mythical Beasts. He knew this was the Muggle version of Magical Creatures. As Severus suspected there were quite a few scenes of unicorns to be colored in.

"Look Mum." Severus held up a picture of a baby unicorn. "It's Sharpie."

Another of them was entitled, Legends of Great Britain. Sure enough, Sev found a picture of Merlin in it. When he turned to thank Dumbledore, he saw that the old wizard was talking to, of all people, Mike Stone. Severus thought better of going anywhere near that kid. He went back to the table to begin coloring in one of the pictures.

The son of the neighborhood thug had approached the fake Santa to find out, "What's the trick?"

"Trick?" Dumbledore played dumb. "Father Christmas knows what children want for Christmas."

"Then where's mine?"

Dumbledore produced a flat rectangular box with no wrapping, or writing on it. Mike opened it at one end, and thought he saw what he actually had been thinking about. He slid it out to find it was a solid milk chocolate pistol. He gave an odd look to the fake Santa. It was a cross of being surprised how close it was to what he had been thinking of, and disappointment at it not being the real thing.

"If you think I was going to give you the genuine article, you're not a very bright lad."

Mike bit the muzzle end off of the chocolate gun. "I'll get one soon enough." Mike went back to the table he had been sitting at.

"I hope not," Dumbledore said under his breath. Before anyone noticed, the fake Father Christmas was gone. He had not apparated, he was just good at sneaking away while no one was looking. Out in the alleyway he told himself, "Well, that was fun." Sure there were no Muggles around, he apparated back to Hogwarts.

Back in the pub Severus was telling his mother, "If this is what I get from someone pretending to be Father Christmas, I can't wait to see what the real one brings."

Eileen smiled. She knew that this year her son would be happy. She went up to where Toby was still stuffing his face with free food. "Joe's going to ask the kids to leave soon," she told him. "Why don't you go a little early. Get a head start on you know what."

"S'pose," Toby said with a mouth full of lemon tart.

"I can't wait to see the look on Sev's face tomorrow morning."

Toby swallowed. "uh huh."

Ele wanted to ask her husband why he couldn't show at least a glimmer of Christmas spirit, but she figured he had done his part by getting the bike. If he knew what was good for him, he'd have it built before she got home. She leaned in, giving him a kiss. "See you later."

Toby raised his eyebrows several times. "Later." He went over to where Severus was still coloring. "Let's get going. Kid's are gonna be kicked out in a few minutes. And you need to be asleep in bed when Father Christmas gets to our house."

The boy grabbed up his new crayons and coloring books, packed them back in the box, and tucked the box under his arm. He was convinced if his dad was talking about Father Christmas, maybe this year he would find their house again.

Late that night, Eileen came home to a lot of banging, and muttering. "You stinking piece of . . ." She feared the worst. Had Toby been harassing their son all night? It was not as she feared. Tobias was having a rough time putting the bike together. He was taking the wench to it in frustration when his wife spotted him.

"Good grief," Eileen huffed. "All the noise your making, you'll wake up Sev."

"Nah, I told him if he came out of his room, I'd deck Father Christmas."

"You didn't."

"Okay, I didn't, but I told him he best stay up there, and not peek."

Eyes rolled on Ele's face. Her wand came out. It was the bike she used it on, not Toby. "There. Now put it under the tree. You can handle that, can't you?"

"Aye," Toby grumbled before putting the bike under the tree. "Didn't notice I wrapped up all those other ones, did-ya?"

"I actually hadn't." She took a breath and seemed to ease up. "You did surprisingly well."

"So, where's the magic stuff?"

"The owls should be bringing a few things around midnight." Just as she said this there was a thud at the door. Eileen opened it up to find a box just outside. She could see an owl flying off. "Better keep it open for a bit." Over the next few minutes about twenty owls flew threw the door depositing various sized boxes next to the tree.

"How much did you buy the kid?" Toby's tone was not enthusiastic.

"Not all of them are for Sev."


Ele looked as if she were expecting something else. "It's a good thing wizarding establishments deliver up till dawn on Christmas." Then there was a huge package carried by four owls. They did not drop this by the tree, but in the kitchen.

"What's that?"

"Something to go along with that shriveled turkey defrosting in the sink."

"Wha'd you buy it with?"

"Joe isn't as much a skinflint as Mr. Leech." Ele gave Toby a 'so there' look. "I was also lucky they agreed to take Muggle money. I still have some connections in the wizarding world." Ele sat down on the sofa. She kicked off her shoes.

"Tired?" Toby asked.

"Yes." Ele stretched out her arms and yawned.

"Then let's get upstairs." Sleep was not what Toby had in mind. Ele knew it, but she had other ideas.

"I have to finish with the wrapping, and start with the cooking."

"That won't take long will it? You're going to magic it, aren't you?"

"I suppose it won't take more than an hour. Go ahead up. I'll be there later."

Toby, glad to be finished with his Christmas duties, did just that. He went upstairs. When Ele went up an hour later, expecting to find her husband ready to go, she was glad Toby was fast asleep, snoring away.

"Thank goodness. I need to sleep." As soon as her head hit the pillow she was snoozing too. It was hours, but it seemed only minutes before something jumped on top of Toby and Ele shouting, "Mum, Dad, Father Christmas was here!"

On any other day Severus' father would have smacked him one for just such a wake up. On a bad day he might have flung him against a wall. The boy had been so excited to see what was downstairs, that he forgot that. Toby was feeling so good, he forgot as well.

"Come on, come on," The boy was now on the side of the bed, tugging at his mother's hand.

"Hold on, hold on," she mumbled back. "Let me get a robe on. Don't expect me to celebrate Christmas in my nightie, do you?" The boy blushed at his mother's words. "You go downstairs, give us a minute to get decent. We'll be right down."

"Right down?"

"Right down."

The boy disappeared. His feet could be heard thumping down the stairs. "I'd like to see you celebrate Christmas in your nightie," Toby teased from his side of the bed.

"You would." Eileen had gotten up. She was reaching for her robe when Tobias tugged her back down to the bed by the strap of her nightgown.

"You mean to tell me, you wouldn't like to see me in front of the tree in my sleeping attire?"

Knowing that, under the sheets, her husband was a bare as the day he was born, she giggled at an image in her head of him posing in front of the tree that way. Then her sensible side answered, "Not on Christmas morning." She leaned over, and gave him a peck on the cheek before standing again.

"What about Christmas night?"

Ele threw Toby's robe at him, hitting his face. "That depends if you're a good boy."

With that, Toby was sliding out of the sheets and into his robe faster than he had any other morning. "Good as gold," he murmured to himself.

Downstairs Severus was having a hard time containing himself. He just knew that bike had to be for him. Of course he had seen Muggle children riding them about the neighborhood. It was to small for his father and his mother rode a broom. Still, it was the only gift that didn't have a name tag on it.

To keep himself from thinking about the bike, Sev began examining the boxes. Some had tags with his name on it. Some had tags that said Mum, or Dad. 'Father Christmas must have left some for them too.' Though he had never done so before, he wondered if he should have gotten something for his parents. 'Too late now.' He picked up one of the boxes that was meant for him and tried to guess what was inside. Boxes proved harder to see into than minds. He tried another, no better. One thing the bright boy did notice was that though both of the boxes he had picked up had his name written on the tags, they looked like two different handwritings. 'Elves must have wrote them.' Before Severus could ponder this anomaly any further, his parents were down the stairs.

"Go ahead, open one," Eileen gave permission. In a instant the paper was gone, and the lid of a box was off. This was one of the things Ele had gotten for her son. It was a toy cauldron. Inside of it were some brightly colored powders in individual vials. They were all together in a plastic bag labeled, 'My First Brewing Kit.' Severus' eyes widened, but as usual, he had a question. "Mum, this cauldron is plastic. It will melt."

"It's plastic young man, because wizard or not, just about to be seven year olds don't play with fire."

The boy looked as if he wanted to play with fire. He still said, "Oh." He examined the kit closer. Basically all one had to do to use it was, add water. It really was for kids, all be it wizarding kids. Adding the brightly colored powder to water made brightly colored sweet drinks akin to Cool-Aid, but in wizarding flavors: Pumpkin; Bat's Blood, which was really black licorice; Dragon's blood, that too was not the real thing but a very hot cinnamon: Troll Boggies, which was Kiwi, and other such things.

"Here's another." Ele handed Severus one of the boxes that Toby had bought.

While their son was opening his second present, Toby joked, "What about mine?"

Rolling her eyes at Toby's constant attempts at humor, she took up her wand and with a flick a coffee pot and two mugs flew in from the kitchen. "This'll do for now. I want Sev to open a few of his first."

Toby had been teasing, and was happy with his mug of coffee. Severus was now holding up a black stick with a white tip. He asked, "What's this?"

Any Muggle kid would have know. "It's a magic wand," Toby answered. "Thought you wanted your own."

"S'not a wand," the boy insisted.

Eileen knew Tobias was trying. The gesture was a large one coming from him. She pointed out, "It's a make believe magic wand."

"Oh." Sev was beginning to wonder if everything he got from Father Christmas was going to be make believe. He guessed it would be good for pretending. He gave it a wave. Imagination would have to help him out. Nothing magic was going to come out of that wand.

"Okay, Daddy next." Ele got a box that had Toby's name on it.

"Father Christmas didn't have to . . ." Toby was saying before Ele put a finger up to her lips to tell him to hush.

At first both his son and wife thought Tobias Snape might show a glimmer of an emotion coming close to happy. He looked a little bit choked up. "How good of Father Christmas to get me a watch just like the one I lost." This statement was for Eileen. It was she, not Father Christmas who had retrieved it from the pawn shop.

"Let's hope you don't 'loose' this one," Ele added.

Now Toby looked as if he were contemplating the fact that he hadn't gotten anything for Ele. 'Blimey,' he thought to himself. 'She said get the stuff for the kid, so I got the stuff for the kid. I forgot all about her.'

With good timing, Severus grabbed a box marked for her. "Mum, You open one."

She couldn't fake surprise as she was the one who had gotten her gift as well. She could however imitate her husband. "How good of Father Christmas to get me the exact same bracelet I had to sell a while back." She put on the emerald stone bracelet.

Feeling a bit more uncomfortable, Toby shifted his weight. "Let's hope you don't have to sell those."

"Let's hope." Eileen's eyes narrowed, then she went back to cheery. "Open another one Sev."