The Best Christmas Present Ever
A/N: The song Marietta's Christmas Carol is based on the original Christmas carol The Twelve Days of Christmas, author unknown.
It was Christmas Eve, and Severus, Arista, Trish, and Marietta were waiting in the secret glen for Paul and Sandy to arrive on Fireflash. Earlier that day, they had built a snowman in the center of the glen, decorating it with one of Snape's old hats, a carrot nose, shoe button eyes, a worn cape of Arista's, and two sticks with mittens for hands.
They'd even had a snowball fight, with Snape and Marietta on one team versus Arista and Trish on the other. Snape's team won, due to the professor's wicked Severus Sidewinder, a curveball he could throw like a pro.
Arista said later he should have been a pitcher for the New York Yankees, he would have made millions.
"And you're not even using magic," Trish lamented.
"I don't need magic to beat you," her guardian said loftily. "You two throw like little girls."
"Oh, be quiet, Dad!" Arista groaned, then nailed him in the face with a sneak attack.
"You little wretch!" he yelled, brushing the snow off him. "Wait'll I get a hold of you!"
He chased her all over the glen, pretending to be furious with her. Arista was laughing so hard she couldn't run fast enough, and he ended up throwing her into a snowbank.
"That'll teach you, you disrespectful brat!" he chuckled.
Arista made a face at him. They returned to the house to get warmed up before traveling back to the glen to wait for the dragon's arrival. Suddenly they saw a bronze dot in the sky and then Fireflash landed neatly in the glen with his usual flair, touching down on three talons.
He promptly serenaded all of them with the carol, "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear", making the adults chuckle at his wit. Trish was in awe of the big bronze, saying she'd never seen a dragon so handsome. Fireflash preened in delight, spreading his beautiful wings so the moonlight shone on them, turning them to silvery green, gold, and blue.
"Now don't go telling him that too often, Trish!" Sandy laughed. "He's already conceited enough as it is." She gave the dragon's shoulder an affectionate thump.
"It's not conceit if it's true," Fireflash snorted. "The kid knows class when she sees it, that's all."
Since it was Christmas, none of the other wizards wanted to get into and argument with the dragon over that statement, and none of them responded to it with anything but a few eye rolls and muffled snickers, all of which Fireflash ignored loftily.
After Fireflash had departed, they all Apparated back to Spinner's End, where Severus had hot apple cider and cocoa waiting for them, as well as gingerbread cookies freshly baked that morning. While the DiSarnos and the girls warmed themselves by the fireplace, Severus went into the kitchen to finish preparing dinner.
He had made a pan of lasagna, Parmesan garlic bread, a small ham glazed with brown sugar, green beans with almonds, cheddar & bacon potatoes, Arista had made an apple-walnut salad and they had shrimp cocktail as an appetizer.
Everyone stuffed themselves, declaring it was a wonderful dinner, and Scout and Comfrey got tons of leftovers, since there was far too much food to consume at one sitting. Arista and Trish helped clean up and she told her friend they'd probably be eating leftovers Christmas Day. Neither of them minded, it was better than making Snape cook two dinners in a row.
For dessert there was a Christmas nut pie, a recipe gotten from Jenna Flynn, Arista's former teacher from America. Trish had made a fruit salad, they ate the rest of the gingerbread cookies, and Sandy had brought over Ari's mouthwatering iced molasses cookies, an Amarotti specialty. The adults drank coffee and tea, the kids had milk, cocoa, or spiced cider.
Afterwards, they sat in the den near the tree and Marietta told her parents how Draco had almost killed Sevvy and how Dumbledore (who looks like Santa) had resurrected him.
"So, is he your new hero, Marietta?" her father asked, raising an eyebrow questioningly.
His daughter shook her head. "No, Uncle Sev still is, 'cause he rescued me from the Wicked Witch of Hogwarts."
"Who's that?" Sandy asked.
"Dolores Umbridge, our new Defense Against the Dark teacher," Trish replied. "She's horrible, worse than my mother in a snit."
"Let's not talk about her now," Severus put in quickly, not wanting to spoil the holiday. "She's enough to give me indigestion."
"Can we open presents now, Uncle Sev?" Marietta asked eagerly. "Can we?"
"Do you think there are any presents under there with your name on them, imp?" he teased.
"Yes. I wasn't that bad for you, was I?"
Paul and Sandy looked at him.
Severus pretended to frown sternly. "Well . . .no, you behaved as well as could be expected, little minx." He glanced at Arista. "You can give her yours first."
From Arista , Trish, Mel, and Kit, Marietta got a brand new Prismari-Lumos wand, one that could cast only those two spells as many times as you wanted. "Awesome!" Marietta cried, grinning from ear to ear. "Now I've got a wand just like yours, Uncle Sev."
"Almost like mine," he smiled.
Paul received a very nice pair of griffin-hide gloves and a gold and blue cashmere scarf from Severus, Arista, and Trish. For Sandy, there was a beautiful lace shawl with pretty silver and pink beads and a bottle of perfume Severus had made called "Italian Roses."
"Oh, Sev, it's beautiful!" Sandy exclaimed. "And, oh, is Terri gone be jealous when she finds out I have a perfume just for me."
"No, she won't. I made her one too," Severus laughed. "Only hers is called "Peaceful Waters" and is made with citrus and lily of the valley."
He handed her a brightly wrapped package to take back to Terri. For Drew and Nick, Severus's twin nephews, he'd gotten wands like Marietta's, so they wouldn't fight over hers. Leo was given packets of rare herbs and seeds for his garden and Ari a new veterinary compendium.
"But what about you, Uncle Sev? What did you get me?" Marietta asked.
"Something you've always wanted," he replied. Then he called, "Scout, bring Marietta's present in here."
The big magehound rose from where he'd been gnawing his Christmas bone and trotted out of the room.
Sandy and Paul traded mystified glances. "Sev, what on earth . . .?" Paul began.
Scout trotted back into the room, walking slowly and carefully, carrying a tiny ball of reddish-gold fur in his mouth.
"Tell me that's not a dog!" Sandy gasped.
Scout marched right up to Marietta, who was seated on Severus's lap, and gently placed the sleeping kitten in her arms. "A kitten! My very own kitten!" Marietta hugged the tiny cat to her excitedly. The kitten woke up and mewed in protest. "Look, Mom! She's got green eyes. I love her! She's the bestest present ever. Thank you, Uncle Sev!"
"You're welcome. I figured every little girl needs a cat. This one is part orange fairy cat, which means she can move fast as lightning and her growl will scare away anyone with evil intentions. They were once used as guardians of druid temples long ago, and are very loyal and protective to their owners."
"Really? But she's so small," Marietta said, gently stroking the kitten, who was purring happily.
"Now she is," Arista laughed. "She won't be in a few months. Her breed can get up to around fifteen pounds. And the fairy blood makes them very long-lived. She can get as old as thirty-five, like my Comfrey."
Severus handed Marietta another small package. "This is from Drake Lockwood, remember him from last summer? He helped me pick out the kitten for you, since his father's a vet and he knows the best breeders around here."
Marietta nodded. "He got a magehound puppy at the dog show." She tore open the package. Inside was a small pink collar with a brass heart-shaped tag on it. "A collar for my kitty! With a nametag like Sevvy's."
"What are you going to call her, Marietta?" Trish asked.
"Ummm . . ."
"Wait, before you answer that," Severus broke in hastily. "I have a favor to ask you."
"Please don't name her Severina. Please."
Marietta laughed. "That's a silly name for a cat, Uncle Sev. I'm going to call her Ember, 'cause she's orange like a fire. Ember kitty. How do you like that?" she asked the kitten.
The kitten opened her eyes and looked at her mistress, mewing in approval. Marietta put the collar on her, which now bore the name Ember on the nametag.
"Ember is a wonderful name," Severus said, heaving a vast sigh of relief.
"And now, here are some presents from your Amarotti relatives," Sandy announced.
From Leo and Ari, they all received sets of hand-carved bookends. Arista's had a cat sleeping, Trish's a butterfly, and Snape's had an owl that looked remarkably like Nightfall. Terri had sent them each gift certificates to Flourish and Blotts, since all of them were avid readers. From Sandy, Paul, and Marietta, the girls received beautiful silk scarves—Arista's was turquoise and Trish's rose.
"And this is from Paul and I, Sev," Sandy handed him a flat package.
"Amarotti Family Recipes," he read the title. "A cookbook. I can certainly use this. Thank you." He smiled at them. Then he recalled another present. "Oh, and here's a present for you, Marietta from Professor Dumbledore." He summoned the bag of candy and gave it to her.
Her eyes lit up. "Wow!"
"Now promise me you'll only eat one or two pieces a day," Severus cautioned.
"I will. I don't want to get another tummy ache." Then she reached into the bag and took out an Acid Pop.
"Do you girls want your presents from me now or tomorrow?" Snape asked his daughter and Trish.
"Now!" they chorused.
He summoned them with a snap of his fingers. Arista got a phoenix bracelet to match her locket and earrings. She also received a huge Healer's Herbal—One Thousand and One Beneficial Plants for Every Ailment.
"That's why you wouldn't let me come in the bookstore with you," she accused Trish, who was smirking.
"Well, duh! How was I supposed to get it if you were there?" Then she handed Arista a box wrapped in blue paper. "Got you this to go with it from me."
Arista tore it open. "Scales and measuring spoons. Thanks a bunch, Trish."
Severus's last gift to Arista was two new rings for her spellophone. "So now you can call Drake and Kit too," he said. The spellophone was the wizard version of a Muggle cellphone.
"Awesome. Thanks, Dad!" She hugged him.
Trish was in transports over her jewelry. "I'm going to wear it to the Yule Ball," she said excitedly, putting them on. "Actually, I'll wear them everyday. They're beautiful. Thanks so much, Severus." Then she jumped up and hugged him too.
"Why, Trish," he said softly. "Did I hear you right? You called me Severus."
She blushed, for he'd told her to call him that when he'd adopted her, but she never had. "Yeah, I did. It feels right now, 'cause you're more than just my teacher." Then she waved her wand and a small package appeared in her other hand. "Merry Christmas, sir."
He opened it, it was another certificate to Flourish and Blotts. "How did you know I needed another one?"
"With the way you read books, sir, you could probably use a dozen," Trish answered, laughing. She also got a set of jeweled inks and stationary from Arista and two more rings for her spellophone.
Marietta slipped off of Severus's lap and ran into the bedroom. She emerged a moment later carrying a drawing. "This is one of my presents for you, Uncle Sev."
It was a picture of her and Severus stirring a potion together, the potion was all colors of the rainbow. "This is the Kaleidoscope Potion you taught me to make," she told him, smiling.
"Now this is a wonderful picture, Marietta. I'll hang it in my office." Severus said, and hugged her.
"But that's not all," she said, then looked at Arista. "Is it time now, Arista?"
"You bet, imp." Arista gestured and Marietta came to stand beside her. "Dad, remember how you told Marietta that she could pick a Christmas carol for her very own? And that I'd teach her all the ones I knew?"
"Well, she said none of them were quite right, so we made one up ourselves. I composed it and now Marietta will sing it. This one's from both of us, Dad. Merry Christmas!"
She clapped her hands and an invisible band began to play the music from "The Twelve Days of Christmas" though Marietta's song was quite different from the original.
The little girl began to sing the following Christmas carol in a beautiful soprano:
Marietta's Christmas Carol
On the first day of Christmas, Uncle Sev got from me, a cup of chamomile tea.
On the second day of Christmas, Uncle Sev got from me, two green ties and a cup of chamomile tea.
On the third day of Christmas Uncle Sev got from me, three magic potions, two green ties, and a cup of chamomile tea.
On the fourth day of Christmas Uncle Sev got from me, four new recipes, three magic potions, two green ties, and a cup of chamomile tea.
On the fifth day of Christmas, Uncle Sev got from me, Five Golden Galleons, four new recipes, three magic potions, two green ties, and a cup of chamomile tea.
On the sixth day of Christmas Uncle Sev got from me, six crayon drawings, five Golden Galleons, four new recipes, three magic potions, two green ties, and a cup of chamomile tea.
On the seventh day of Christmas Uncle Sev got from me, seven quill pens writing, six crayon drawings, five Golden Galleons, four new recipes, three magic potions, two green ties, and a cup of chamomile tea.
On the eighth day of Christmas, Uncle Sev got from me, eight cauldrons brewing, seven quill pens writing, six crayon drawings, Five Golden Galleons, four new recipes, three magic potions, two green ties, and a cup of chamomile tea.
On the ninth day of Christmas, Uncle Sev got from me, nine beakers bubbling, eight cauldrons brewing, seven quill pens writing, six crayon drawings, five Golden Galleons, four new recipes, three magic potions, two green ties, and a cup of chamomile tea.
On the tenth day of Christmas, Uncle Sev got from me, ten hugs and kisses, nine beakers bubbling, eight cauldrons brewing, seven quill pens writing, six crayon drawings, five Golden Galleons, four new recipes, three magic potions, two green ties, and a cup of chamomile tea.
On the eleventh day of Christmas, Uncle Sev got from me, eleven pieces of parchment, ten hugs and kisses, nine beakers bubbling, eight cauldrons brewing, seven quill pens writing, six crayon drawings, five Golden Galleons, four new recipes, three magic potions, two green ties, and a cup of chamomile tea.
On the twelfth day of Christmas, Uncle Sev got from me, twelve Potions grimoiries, eleven pieces of parchment, ten hugs and kisses, nine beakers bubbling, eight cauldrons brewing, seven quill pens writing, six crayon drawings, five Golden Galleons, four new recipes, three magic potions, two green ties, and a cup of chamomile tea.
There was dead silence in the room for about ten seconds. Then everyone was applauding and Marietta was bowing and saying, "Did you like my Christmas carol, Uncle Sev?"
"Marietta, it was the best Christmas present ever!" he said, then he grabbed her up in his arms and hugged her, laughing.
A/N: What did you think of Sev's present from his daughter and niece? It was a great one, right?
I've posted my third Arista Snape novel, for all of you who are reading the series, it's called Arista Snape and the Ghosts in the Tower. The 8th chapter should be up shortly. Severus doesn't show up until chapter 7, to give the kids time to have a special adventure of their own in the Tower of London. Features a battle with a new villian, new powers are revealed, and the battle for Hogwarts occurs in this one, plus Snape finally reconciles with Harry after something terrible happens.
Also, don't forget to read SHADOW PUPPETS, a Halloween tale with Sev and Marietta, it's lonely only has 2 reviews.