Title: The Christmas Gift

Author: Severitus

Rating: PG

Summary: Harry's in the Christmas spirit, and he's determined

to spread the joy...even to Professor Snape.

Disclaimer: not mine. it's J.K. Rowlings. duh.

Timeframe: doesn't really matter, Harry makes a reference to Sirius and that's about it.

The Christmas Gift

--Chapter 1

Harry Potter couldn't remember the Great Hall ever looking so spectacular. There were more Christmas trees than ever this year, shining and glittering in a dozen colors that reflected off the gleaming marble floors and polished dinnerware. Swirling gray clouds and the wild tumult of snowflakes from the storm outside flashed across the ceiling. Silver and gold candles with different colored flames danced high in the air, twirling in and out of the shapes of candy canes, stars, and all manner of Christmas splendors.

Harry glanced around in wonder as he took his seat at the Gryffindor table with Ron and Hermione. He was one of the last few to be seated, with only a few students and Headmaster Dumbledore not yet arrived. This was the end of the semester feast, the last meal that they would have together before most of the students left for the winter holiday. Christmas was in three days, and Harry couldn't help but wonder what the actual Christmas day feast would look like.

"Harry, did you see the candles?" asked Ron excitedly, his eyes sparkling. Harry took his seat and nodded, glancing at the massive amount of food that lined the table.

"They really spared no expense on the decorating this year, did they?" he said with a smile. Next to him, he saw Hermione's face light up in a familiar smile, one that said all to clearly that she had important, (or at least what she deemed important), information to disclose. She lifted her fork in the air like a teachers baton and gave it an idle flick.

"Well." she began, taking on the know-it-all tone she'd abandoned after their first year. Now it was her way of teasing Ron, for it annoyed him to no end. "I heard that Professor Dumbledore is especially in the mood this year, and has even got some real flying Reindeer out behind the castle. And did you two notice the teachers? He made them all dress up this year." Hermione said, flicking the end of her fork toward the table at the head of the hall. Ron's head jerked up in surprise.

"ALL of them?" he asked around a mouthful of dinner roll.

"ALL of them." Hermione replied with a devious grin. All three heads instantly turned toward the front table, their collective gaze sliding down the table toward one figure in particular. Most of the teachers were decked out in their holiday finest, sporting red and green robes with crowns of holly, a few having even gone so far as to dress up like a Christmas elf or reindeer. The teacher whose outfit they were most curious about however, wasn't visible at first. Then Hagrid leaned back in his chair and the dark figure of Professor Snape was revealed, looking even more bitter than usual, if that were at all possible. He was scooted slightly back from the table, slumped down in his chair with his arms tightly crossed. His eyes were positively glaring about the room, though the effect was somewhat diminished due to the bright red Santa hat perched lopsided on his head, and the tiny bell and holly sprig pinned to the shoulder of his dark robes. Dumbledore really /had/ outdone himself.

Harry instantly slapped a hand to his mouth to stifle a snicker, and noticed Ron and Hermione doing the same. Despite the fact that Professor Snape was dressed up to a significantly lesser degree than his colleagues, he still looked so miserably out of place that they couldn't help but laugh.

"I hate to say this, but...poor Snape! I imagine he really put up a fight about this." Ron said, no longer laughing but grinning far wider than usual.

"I wouldn't be surprised if Dumbledore had to magically stick that hat on his head." Hermione said, dipping her spoon daintily into her mound of mashed potatoes.

"Well, he /does/ make the perfect Scrooge, doesn't he?" Harry said with a smile. It took no trouble to imagine Snape in that Charles Dickens classic.

"Bah Humbug!" Ron said with his sneer and best Professor Snape imitation, which wasn't really that good, but earned another round of laughter despite.

"I wonder.." Harry said after a moment, thoughtfully twirling a carrot on the tip of his fork. Snape certainly /did/ appear to hate the festivities. That itself was nothing new, but it being the Christmas season, it wouldn't have been strange for the man to lighten at least a little. Surely the Potions Master didn't /entirely/ hate Christmas. Even people who had no family or friends to celebrate with could manage to find something about the holiday to enjoy. Harry himself had never received a Christmas gift (unless you counted a coat hanger) until he'd come to Hogwarts, and yet he'd still enjoyed the holiday. There were carols and roaring fires in the fireplace, Christmas cookies, and all the shining decorations everywhere. Surely there was /something/.. even if it was just a memory.

"You wonder what, Harry?" Hermione asked after Harry didn't immediately continue. He glanced up at her and then back to the teacher's table.

"I wonder if anybody's ever given Snape a Christmas gift.." He finished, gaining blatant stares from both of his friends as well as anyone else who'd been close enough to overhear.

"Well of /course/ they haven't! He's not exactly the Christmas type; if anybody even dared to he'd probably kill them. Just look at the expression on his face!" Hermione burst out, both of her hands placed firmly on the tabletop.

"You aren't actually.considering giving /him/ something are you?" Ron asked, his face twisted with disgust and his silverware lying forgotten on his plate. Harry sat up straight and stared firmly back, crossing his arms in mock irritation.

"Of course I wasn't! I was just trying to figure out why he seems to hate the holiday so much." Harry said defensively. In actuality, he /had/ been considering the idea. It just didn't seem.. right. for /anyone/ to dread Christmas, even if it was Snape. Everyone deserved to have a happy holiday, and nothing could convince Harry otherwise.

"Good.you had me worried for a moment there!" Ron said, whipping imaginary sweat from his forehead. Harry smiled, but it didn't reach his eyes. He turned his head once again to the teacher's table and the smile turned to a frown. Snape was still sitting exactly as before, arms crossed angrily and the plate before him barely touched. He looked ready to bolt the instant Dumbledore called an end to the feast.

"Harry, are you sure you'll be alright?" Hermione asked, jarring him from his thoughts.

"What?" he asked, not exactly sure what she was referring to.

"You know, with Ron and I both having to go home for the holidays this year. Will you be alright?" Hermione asked, her expression softened from what it had been a moment before. Harry nodded.

"You two have places you need to be, I'll be fine. And besides, I won't be alone. I can visit Hagrid, and I'm sure Sirius will write too. I'm looking forward to hearing from him." Harry said, his smile turning genuine at the mention of the gamekeeper and his godfather.

"Now you're sure about that Harry? If I asked my parents again, they might.." Ron began, but Harry shook his head firmly.

"No, it's alright. Honest! It's not like I've never been alone for Christmas before, any holiday away from the Dursleys is a good one as far as I'm concerned." Harry said, and Hermione and Ron nodded reluctantly.

The conversation strayed to other subjects, everything from the past semester to the future one, and everything in between. They didn't talk about the holiday anymore, and by the time Dumbledore called an end to the feast, Harry had all but forgotten about it. They left the hall together with everyone else, pausing to wish Hermione goodnight before continuing up to their respective dormitories. Harry helped Ron pack his things for the morning train ride, and then each turned in for the night.

As he lay staring up at the ceiling that night, Harry couldn't help but wonder about the Potions Master yet again. True to Harry's assumption, the instant Dumbledore had allowed them leave; Snape had left through a nearby door without so much as a word to his colleagues. Of course, Harry noted, none of them had seemed interested in having a word with /him/ either. Every year it was exactly the same routine, though Harry had never really thought about it before. He'd been too preoccupied with his friends and the fact that he had actually gotten /presents/ for Christmas. Now that he was used to the idea, he decided he didn't like the notion of anyone else missing out on Christmas. And that included Snape.

With that thought, Harry drifted off to sleep, filled with the determination to somehow convince his scrooge of a Potions Master to enjoy Christmas. It would be perhaps his most dangerous task yet, he thought.

End Chapter One----

Notes: Okay, this is going to be pretty short, probably only three or four chapters about this size. This is my attempt to get in the holiday spirit, and give my brain a short reprieve from the other story I've been writing. I hope you like!