Happy Holidays, everyone!

Note: If you like this story, consider it my holiday gift to you. If you don't, I kept the receipt so you can return it. :) heheh. Oh yes, and I apologize for McGonagall being a bit OOC, but to me she just seems like someone that would really get into the christmas spirit. I tried my best to keep Snape in character, so please forgive me if I failed, I tried, really I did!

The Christmas Gift-------Chapter 3

by Severitus

Severus Snape hated Christmas. He hated the sound of people laughing and singing, he hated the decorated trees and the red and green everywhere, he hated the smell of baking christmas treats, and above all he /hated/ everything being so bloody jolly. No matter where he went in the castle, his senses where assaulted by the holiday. Every room, hall, and stairwell had been decked to the fullest extent, leaving no corner untouched. Severus, however, had threatened the life of anyone or anything that dared to try and decorate his rooms or office, and therefore they alone remained untouched. He would have done the same about dressing up for the holiday feast, but Albus had been insistent on the matter, (he magically stuck the hat on Severus' head), and he'd therefore ended up doing it anyway.

Doing his best ignore the carols that were being played loudly in a nearby room, he continued on his way back to his dungeon. There he could simply sit back, relax, and flip through one of the books he'd been meaning to read for a while now. He desperately hoped there wouldn't be anyone in the halls, for this time of year even people who typically ran in fear offered a shaky ,'Merry Christmas,' before he sent them running with a glare much nastier than usual.

"Hello, Severus!" a very merry voice called from just behind him. He stopped abruptly, groaning in annoyance. It /had/ to be /her/ didn't it? Of all the people to run into in the hallway, it had to be someone who was in just as much christmas spirit as Dumbledore....Minerva McGonagall.

"Evening, Minerva." He said flatly, turning to face her in the hallway. She'd just emerged from the room in which the carols were still being blasted quite loudly.

"Would you care to join us, Severus? We're having a sort of faculty christmas party." She said, smiling brightly beneath the green Santa hat perched on her head. She lifted a hand up and adjusted her glasses, either blatantly ignoring the obvious look of annoyance she was receiving, or simply too preoccupied to notice.

"No thank you, Minerva. I'd rather not." he said, then started to turn to go.

"Oh, come on Severus! You never join in the festivities. Don't you have /any/ christmas spirit?" she said, placing her hands on her hips and watching him stubbornly.

"Bah Humbug." he replied coldly. She shook her head, but a mischievous smile curled up one corner of her mouth. Snape narrowed his eyes, turning his head to give her a sideways glance.

"What are you plotting, Minerva? I can assure you that there is no possible way that you will /ever/ get me to go to that party," he said, allowing a tinge of anger to color his voice. She laughed lightly, turning back toward the door.

"Oh, I know that Severus." she said, still smiling.

"Then /why/ on earth are you smiling as if you know something I don't?" he growled, arms crossed angrily.

"You'll find out." she said, and then, "Merry Christmas, Mr. Scrooge." she finished, then slipped back through the door to the continuing party. Snape growled deep in his throat and whirled around, stalking down the rest of the hallway. He should have known /someone/ would try something....every year they complained about his lack of participation, and every year he blew them off the same as always. It was only a matter of time 'til they decided to take the matter more seriously. Some sort of prank or attempt at spreading the christmas 'cheer' was definitely in the near future, and he only hoped that it wouldn't be too particularly jolly.


Everything had gone perfectly. The Christmas feast had come and gone without incident, and Harry had been able to slip away early without causing a stir. Slipping the present into Snape's chambers had been much easier than Harry had expected, he had to remember to thank McGonagall for stalling Snape when he got a chance. He'd gotten her a gift too, as thanks for helping him out. It wasn't much, just a boxed assortment of flavored teas and treats that he thought she'd like. Thanks to her and his trusty invisibility cloak, his mission of christmas cheer had been accomplished without so much as the slightest hitch. Harry had to wonder though, what if that meant he was in for a load of trouble later? Harry hadn't really allowed himself to predict Snape's reaction to the gift, because it would in all likelihood be /extremely/ unpleasant, even if Snape /did/ like the gift. But now that it was signed, sealed, and delivered, Harry allowed himself to ponder his fears. Now that he thought about it, Snape would probably kill him.

Harry sat down on the edge of his bed, the invisibility cloak still hanging lopsided from one shoulder. He still had a few more gifts to deliver, a carved wooden dragon for Hagrid and a large box of Lemon Drops for Dumbledore. Aside from that, Harry wasn't sure what he was going to do with the rest of his Christmas eve. Everyone else from his dorm had gone home for the holidays, and Harry was feeling particularly lonely. He wished he could visit Hagrid, but he was at the faculty party that was still underway in the transfiguration classroom. Perhaps some hot chocolate? he thought, and decided that it sounded like a fairly good idea. He'd drop off the gifts and then go down to the Great Hall, which now had a giant fireplace and several armchairs at its head, and have himself a large cup of cocoa by the fire. It would be lonely, but it would still be a pleasant ending to his christmas eve; as long as Snape didn't decide to murder him afterwards.


At least /one/ potion bottle shattered as a result of Severus Snape's rather violent return to his rooms. Last christmas eve he'd lost his entire supply of Wolfs bane extract when the bottles had shattered after he'd slammed the door shut, and this year he'd been only slightly more careful. For the time being, he ignored the broken remains of the bottle (empty, thankfully) and threw his outer cloak over the back of a nearby chair. One quick glance around the front room proved that thankfully, no one had attempted to decorate in his absence. Continuing through his usual routine, he flicked his wand toward the fireplace and lit the awaiting log; magically adjusting the flame to just the right size. Then he continued on toward the bookshelves near the entrance to his bedroom, and ran a fingertip casually over the many age-worn titles. However, before he found the particular novel he was searching for, he saw something out of the corner of his eye that caused him to instantly freeze in place. Christmas colors. Something red and green not quite visible from around the corner of his bed. In an instant his raised hand curled into a fist, and his lips curved into a vicious snarl. Someone /had/ been in his rooms, attempting to sway him into the spirit of the season. Indeed. When he found out who was responsible.....well, they'd just better hope that he didn't find them out.

Stalking slowly into the room, he approached the end of the bed with all the caution of a hunter tracking some ferocious beast. It could be a prank, he thought, rounding the corner cautiously and peering down toward the object in question. What he saw further strengthened his assumption; it was a large box, wrapped in green paper with a bright red bow on top. There was no visible tag on the outside, but Severus was certain that had been on purpose. Who, after all, would be brainless enough to give him a 'gift' and then sign their name? No one was /that/ stupid.

He circled the object slowly, studying it from every angle. Everything on the outside seemed perfectly normal, no mysterious strings or latches visible anywhere. It didn't give off any mysterious scents or sounds, and he couldn't sense any spells anywhere nearby.....but surely there was /something/......There was only one way to find out, he supposed; he had to open the box. Growling darkly at the inconvenience of it all, having to waste his night messing around with someone's bloody idea of a joke, he knelt near the box and wedged the tip of his wand under the edge of the lid. He lifted it slowly, half-expecting it to explode with confetti or burst into holiday song. Nothing happened. The lid was now lying safely on the floor, and from his perspective the box appeared to be completely empty. So...it was a prank then, someone's idea of a cruel joke. After all, he hadn't received in gift in what.....more than twenty years? A deep 'harrumph' sounded from the back of his throat and he leaned forward, fully intent on taking the box and chucking it in the trash can. But then he heard something, like a soft rustling of cloth. Severus paused, leaning toward the box with one hand slightly outstretched. Leaning forward ever so slowly, he caught a brief glimpse of something dark, and before he could comprehend what was happening, the box tipped over, and something shot towards him through the air like a dark lightening bolt and struck him squarely in the solar plexus. The next thing he knew, he was lying flat on his back with something warm sitting right in the middle of his chest, vibrating slightly. Slowly, he lifted his head from the floor and opened his eyes, and immediately yelped in surprise.

It was a cat. A small, scrawny black cat with enormous blue eyes, two white feet, and a gigantic red bow tied messily around its neck. And now it was sniffing him, its tiny wet nose mere centimeters away from his own, and all the while carrying on with its incessant purring.

"What the....?" Severus muttered, and leapt to his feet in an instant, eliciting an angry meow from the kitten after it was sent sprawling to the cold floor. Then it sat back on its haunches and stared up at him expectantly, tail twitching slightly. For a moment, Severus merely stared back in confusion. Was this a prank? Or was this actually someone's idea of a christmas gift? A /kitten/. For whatever reason, someone had gotten /him/, the dark, terrifying, mean and nasty potions master a /KITTEN/ of all possible things. Well, whoever's idea it was had certainly failed in their mission, for he /definitely/ wasn't anymore in the christmas spirit than he had been before, and he certainly wasn't going to destroy the school over the gangly furball sitting at his feet; the furball that was still blatantly staring at him. Severus knelt slightly and grasped the kitten firmly by the scruff of the neck, lifting the creature to eye level as he stood up.

"And the question remains, what am I to do with you? Back to the pet shop I suppose...." he said, and the kitten audibly growled. "What? And you expected /me/ to keep you? So sorry to disappoint you." he growled in reply, and the kitten gave its own version of a fierce glare, its tail swishing angrily. A furious sound rising deep in his throat, Severus was moments away from tossing the kitten onto the bed and stalking away to hunt down the perpetrator when he noticed something else that was tied to the kitten's neck. A small, rolled piece of parchment was pinned under the bow near the knot, nearly hidden by the bright cloth. He sat back on the bed and dropped the kitten in his lap, and then set about freeing the parchment. The kitten instantly curled up against his stomach, beginning its purring anew. Snape ignored it, and unrolled the tiny scroll. It read;

Professor Snape,

Somebody told me that you had a black cat once, I

found this one in a pet shop and I thought you might

like him. Merry Christmas, Professor.

H. Potter

He read the parchment twice before setting it aside, then looked down at the cat once again. He picked the kitten up by the scruff of the neck a second time and stared at it warily. It /appeared/ to be a normal cat in every sense of the word, excepting the fact that like most magical animals it was significantly smarter that it's muggle-owned cousins. But why on earth would /Potter/ give him a /cat/? Surely there was something---some time activated spell or ulterior motive. Perhaps this was just the brat's way of trying to pass Potions----No, that was ludicrous. As much as he hated the boy, Snape had to admit that the child was not that stupid, and if Snape hadn't hated the boy, Potter would probably be doing pretty well in potions class. But that left yet another question....who had told him about Desero? The cat had disappeared back when he'd been a /student/ at Hogwarts, there was no possible way Potter could have----

"Minerva...." he growled, with the way she'd been acting it left no doubt in his mind. McGonagall and Potter had evidently joined forces against him---some sort of tag-team determined to drive him mad. The kitten meowed, and Snape dragged himself up out of his dark thoughts and stared at it. It hung limply from his grasp, and the bow was so huge on the skinny creature that it looked absolutely ridiculous. In a way, it did look an awful lot like Desero had, both were scrawny, gangly, and weren't completely black. Desero had borne a white patch of fur on his chest and one white toe, and his eyes, unlike this kitten, had been green. Severus turned and dropped the creature on the bed, where it swayed briefly on its feet and immediately sat down beside him, still staring at him expectantly. When Severus failed to show any interest, it gave up and layed down against his leg, stretching and then yawning briefly before finally closing its eyes. Snape groaned and raked a hand through his hair, it was hard to hate the creature now that he'd compared it to Desero. He /had/ been extremely upset when he'd disappeared, as well as extremely angry. To this very day he was convinced that Lupin had eaten the cat on one of his full moon ventures, and had conveniently forgotten to mention it. There was actually some merit to his assumption, too, for there /had/ been a significant rise in pet disappearances during the werewolf's stay at Hogwarts.

"But what to do about Potter?" he reminded himself, looking down at the kitten once again. If it was meant as some sort of vile, twisted joke, then he'd make sure that the brat never again saw the light of day. But if it wasn't----well, he was positive that Dumbledore would have his head if he punished the boy over a christmas present, an obvious act of 'good will.' Sighing in defeat, Severus reached down and stroked the kitten, scratching it lightly behind the ear. It immediately began to purr once again, and watched him from between half-lidded eyes.

"Fine, you persistent beast. You've won. You can stay, for now at least. But if you break so much as one bottle, or scratch up one piece of furniture.....out the window you go. Is that understood?" he said sternly, and kitten raised its head, replying with a happy meow.

"Good. Then I'll have to name you then, won't I? Let's see...." he said, leaning back against the bedpost. "I know....I'll call you Caedus, Latin for what I intend to do to Potter if you're meant as a joke." the cat only purred louder in reply.


Harry was quite content from his place by the fire in the Great Hall, wedged comfortably between the cushions piled on a massive, high-backed armchair. A cup of cocoa sat on the table next to him, topped with a mountain of marshmallows, whipped cream, and shaved chocolate. The only thing that could have made the moment better was if Ron and Hermione had been there to share it with him. Hagrid and Dumbledore had stopped by briefly after the party had ended, both to wish him a merry christmas. Now, most people had retired to their rooms for the evening, even though it wasn't quite curfew yet. He could stay by the fire for at least another hour, and then he'd have to return to the dorm or risk Filch's wrath. (Or Snape's, but he dared not imagine the outcome of /that/)

Sighing, he leaned back in the armchair and closed his eyes, enjoying the rich scent of the hot chocolate and the roaring of the fire. Even though he was alone, it was quite nice. He'd have to remember to suggest doing this next year to Ron and Hermione, he knew Ron would have loved to set up his chess set on the table by the fire, and Hermione most certainly wouldn't pass up the opportunity to read in such a comfortable armchair. And the hot chocolate---the elves had really outdone themselves, Harry had never tasted anything quite like it. It really was turning out to be a nice holiday....

"Evening, Mr. Potter." said the very voice Harry had been dreading all evening. Very slowly he opened his eyes and turned around in his chair, careful to hide the fear that had frozen his formerly toasty insides. There, standing just behind and between Harry's chair and it's twin, stood Professor Snape. His expression was slightly cold, though mostly blank. The shifting shadows caused by the firelight seemed to make the man appear even fiercer than usual.

"Hello, Professor." Harry managed calmly enough, though he was positive that Snape noticed his terror. For a moment Snape simply stood there, his gaze turned to the fire. Then he abruptly stepped between the two chairs and sat down in the other high-backed armchair, crossing his legs comfortably. And this was turning out to be such a nice night, Harry thought.

Snape remained silent for a few minutes, but then he startled Harry by suddenly summoning a house elf to fetch him something to drink. After the elf returned, a second mug of cocoa was placed on the table next to Harry's, the silence resumed once again, and Harry found himself fidgeting nervously.

"I didn't expect to find /you/ down here, Potter." Snape said after taking a cautious sip from his mug. "I expected you to be up in your dorm, fiddling with whatever gifts your partners in crime left for you." he finished, returning the mug to the table. Harry jerked in surprise at the mention of the word 'gift,' but then forced himself to relax and reply.

"I like it down here, sir." he said, and Snape nodded calmly. For the third time there was no sound save for the crackling of the fire, with an occasional burst of sparks up the chimney. At long last, Harry couldn't take any more of it.

"Please don't kill me, Professor Snape! I just wanted----" Harry stammered, but Snape interrupted him with a vicious growl. The Potions Master whirled to face him, his expression twisted into an angry snarl.

"You just wanted WHAT, Potter? To pass my class? Or to play some vile prank on your hated Potions Professor?" he growled bitterly, the corner of his eye twitching in restrained fury. Harry shrunk away, but banished the fear from his voice and face. He stared at the Potions Master with firm resolve.

"I just wanted /everyone/ to have a good christmas, Professor Snape." he said, and furrowed his eyebrows in determination. Snape watched him for a long moment, his black eyes twitching back and forth as they studied his expression, struggling to find some fault that would identify a mistruth. After a long moment, he leaned back in his chair, the sneer and scowl disappeared from his face. Harry watched him warily.

"And what gives you the right to interfere in the way I spend my holiday?" Snape said coldly, watching the fire. His voice was still cold, but the anger had disappeared.

"My first year at Hogwarts was the first time I had a real christmas, Professor Snape. I don't like to see anyone not enjoying at least /something/ about the holiday. You didn't seem to like anything about it, so I decided to get you a gift so that you might have at least one good memory of christmas." Harry said, pausing to make sure Snape's expression hadn't turned violent, "Professor McGonagall told me about the cat you'd had once, and how upset you were when it ran off, so I thought you might like that one." Harry said, shifting under the stern gaze that Snape had fixed on him. Then a disturbing thought rose in his head, and he had to ask, "You didn't.....kill it, did you?" Harry said nervously, and was surprised when Snape erupted with a loud, amused laugh. Snape was watching him with a expression that seemed to say, 'imagine that, the brat did something interesting.'

"No, Potter, I didn't kill it. Despite whatever speculations about me you have in that head of yours, I don't make a habit of murdering students and kittens. Although I admit, I have been sorely tempted on /many/ occasions." he said, his mouth curved in an amused smile. Harry sat back, slightly relieved. A soft meow startled him a moment later, and when he looked back toward his Professor, a small kitten slid out of some hidden, inner pocket of Snape's robes and landed lightly in the man's lap, where it proceeded to curl up contentedly. Snape dropped his hand from the chair's armrest and began the stroke the kitten lightly, his eyes focused on the fire. Harry couldn't believe that Snape wasn't furious at him, well, he had been at first, but the sight of the evil Potions Master petting the kitten was simply too much to believe. "Thank you, Potter. For once you've shown that you do have some brains in that head of yours. You do realize, of course, that if I'd opened that box and found Berty Bott's Every Flavor Beans, you /would/ be dead now." Snape said, a note of disgust entering his voice at the last. Harry watched his professor for a moment, then a smile slowly crept its way onto his face.

"You're welcome." he said, and after a moment of consideration added, "Merry Christmas, Professor Snape," he finished, then took a sip from his mug of hot cocoa. Snape reached for his own mug and held it on the armrest for a moment, contemplating the shrinking flames of the fire.

"Merry Christmas, Potter." he said, and smiled as he lightly scratched Caedus behind the ears.

Harry leaned back in his chair, grinning from ear to ear. He'd succeeded. His mission to get Professor Snape to have a good holiday had actually /worked/, and now the man was even smiling. Harry took a drink of his cocoa and sighed in content, settling deeper into the chair. It looked as if miracles really did happen on christmas.

"Oh, and Potter?" Snape added, "Don't /ever/ go into my rooms again."


The rest of the school year passed by with hardly any change at all in Potions class. Professor Snape was still as cruel and unfair as always, even with the scrawny feline perched constantly on his desk or shoulder. However, as small an improvement as it was, he stopped trying to get Harry expelled whenever blame for some horrific incident could be put on him, and Harry was eternally grateful for that small change. Professor McGonagall always made a point of smiling at Harry whenever the cat made its appearance in her presence, and softened up even when in an unpleasant mood. No one else knew where the feline had come from, though Harry was sure Ron and Hermione suspected him of something. After all, Harry was the only student the cat was friendly toward, everyone else it greeted in roughly the same manner as its master. Perhaps the most signifigant effect of the christmas gift was that on every christmas eve afterward, Harry would venture alone down to the great hall, take his seat by the fire, and enjoy a steaming mug of cocoa. And every christmas eve, Severus Snape would sit in the other armchair with Caedus at his side, and for that one night out of the year, they would sit together in a silent understanding. For that one night, Harry Potter and Severus Snape were friends.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

---THE END-----

Pleas visit http://www.geocities.com/evilgeniusxi for a picture of Caedus pouncing on Severus. I did a better job on Sev this time, so let me know what you think!

Okay, sorry if this was a bit sappy, but I couldn't help it. Anyway, 'Caedus' means murder, and 'Desero' means to forsake or give up. I really hope you guys liked this, and now I can concentrate on my other story! Yeah!

Thanks a bunch for reading and for all your wonderful reviews! Happy Holidays!