Disclaimer: Harry Potter belongs to JK Rowling, Scholastic, and WB. I am making no profit from this.
Disclaimer: Harry Potter belongs to JK Rowling, Scholastic, and WB. I am making no profit from this.
AN: Merry Christmas dear readers!
This is an AU one-shot of OotP (film and book version). I am writing it in the same universe as Operation but it is not necessary to have read that story.
It almost didn't happen.
Christmas almost didn't happen.
The unexpected owl she received as her family was preparing to leave for the train cast an ominous shadow on a holiday celebrated for it jovial atmosphere.
Mr. Weasley was in St. Mungo's and Harry had seen it.
Hermione kicked herself for not preparing Harry sooner. She doubled her resolve as she boarded the Knight Bus that she was going to teach Harry how to prevent Voldemort from possessing him.
She was not going to let this continue.
Dumbledore would take steps to help Harry, of course. The steps though should have been taken years ago.
It was her turn.
It had to stop.
The first course of action when she arrived though was to get Harry out of the attic.
"I know you're in there," she declared as she banged on the locked door. "Would you please come out? I need to talk to you."
The door slowly slid open and a wide-eyed Harry was revealed.
"What are you doing here? I thought you were going skiing with your family."
It was a valid question, Hermione surmised, but also dumb. Harry needed her and he thought she would still go to France.
"Well, skiing isn't really my thing," she replied after a moment's pause. "But don't tell Ron that. I kinda talked it up already."
"What about your family," he asked as he resumed his seat by Buckbeak.
Hermione sighed. "They weren't thrilled, but I explained that a lot of students were staying over the hols to study for their O.W.L.s. They're always reminding me how important grades are."
"Yeah, but Hermione…"
"No buts," she declared with a stern expression. "Plus," she said with a smile, "I wanted to spend the holiday with my best friend." She lightly bumped his shoulder with her own.
"And, I had to make sure you enjoyed the holiday."
Harry looked into determined eyes and slumped forward.
"I don't know what to do anymore 'Mione," Harry whispered.
He looked so defeated that Hermione could not hold back her need to reassure him, to comfort him. Pulling him into a hug, she felt his hands fist into the back of her sweater tightly. No words were spoken as she held onto her fragile friend.
"Now," she began as she pulled away. "I'm going to help you as much as I can." Hermione's voice was steady in its determination. "But, Mr. Weasley is coming home today, and I demand that you stop mopping."
She stood up and dragged Harry with her. "You are hogging the sympathy and it's not right."
Harry looked bewildered until he saw the teasing glint in her eyes.
"You're right. He deserved to have all of the attention focused on him," Harry stated with mock thoughtfulness.
"Mrs. Weasley can't prepare for Christmas and split her attention between two people she is insistent on coddling."
Opening the door, they began to rejoin the rest of the household.
"Plus," Hermione added when they reached the landing, "You have Sirius this Christmas."
With that, she left Harry in search of her other best friend. Ron said he wanted an update as soon as she had one.
Turning down the hall in the direction of the living room, she missed the figure smiling in the shadows silently thanking her for cheering up his godson.
The return of Mr. Weasley seemed to lighten the gloomy atmosphere.
Christmas had finally arrived to Grimmauld Place, and all were happy to see it.
They spent the entire morning decorating the household.
The residence was barely recognizable with the great Christmas tree Mundungus had presented them with the previous day. The tree was illuminated with real fairies and covered in vibrant red and gold ornaments. Various packages and parcels peaked out from under and around the tree tempting the anxious youths and some of the adults. Gold and silver streams and garlands made of holly replaced the long hung cobwebs and covered bare banisters. Magic mistletoe made by the twins adorned each doorway waiting to capture unsuspecting victims until a kiss set them free.
Someone had even enchanted the ceiling to cause snow to gently drift down and cover the ground with a light sprinkling of flakes.
The fireplace was alive with color and awash with stockings of every hue. Each member made their own. The twins' were the most ostentatious with their crazy color combinations and enormous size dwarfing all the others.
Sirius had found a Muggle radio and sang along with all the familiar Christmas carols.
Hermione could not remember a time he had seen the man in better spirits. The Azkaban escapee was replaced by a man who was genuinely delighted at having company for the Christmas festivities.
Since the escapade at the Muggle movie theater, Hermione and Sirius had gotten closer. He was finally seeing her as more than just his godson's best friend and a walking encyclopedia. He confided in her through letters during term about his hatred of his ancestral home and the banshee of a mother's portrait they couldn't remove. He told her about his desire to burn the whole house down at least once a day.
The only solace he found was when he hid himself away with Buckbeak. The animal he declared in multiple letters was an excellent conversationalist.
Remus tried to help with the isolation and loneliness, she knew, but he had Order business that constantly took him away for days or even weeks at a time. Being the envoy to the werewolf clans prevented him from pulling Sirius out of his constant melancholy.
The Muggle solution didn't help anymore either. Dumbledore still demanded that Sirius stay inside. It was almost like he wanted Sirius to go insane, or maybe he wanted him out of the way for some reason.
Hermione didn't know. All she knew was that Christmas was good for him
He even helped Hermione prepare some of the presents now lost among the multitudinous number of gifts under the tree.
This year she had spent a considerable amount of time getting something special for each person on her list. She already presented the teachers with small tokens of appreciation before she left Hogwarts. Dumbledore seemed excited about trying the different types of Muggle candies she assembled.
Hermione knew most were expected a book of some kind, but after her summer adventure, she decided to take another chance and buy or make something uniquely tailored to each person.
This year was about giving not receiving.
She just hoped they liked what she got.
Christmas morning was always a calm affair at home. Being the only child, Hermione never had to deal with an anxious sibling banging on before the sun peaked above the horizon.
The Weasleys however did.
The banging was continuous and she couldn't block them out.
She had been up most of the night preparing one of her surprises, so she did not appreciate the early morning wakeup call.
If she only still had Sirius' wand, she would hex whoever dared interrupt her sleep. She didn't care if it was Christmas. Even she needed more than two hours.
She hated that Ginny was somehow ignorant of the infernal noise bombarding their room. How is she still asleep?
The door was thrown open when it was clearly not going to be answered to reveal a head of red and another of messy black.
Hermione silently seethed as they jovially approached her bed declaring that she had to "rise and shine."
"If you two do not stop this instant," she growled, "I will make sure that this is the last Christmas you will ever enjoy."
"Don't be like that Mione," laughed Ron, not taking her threat of bodily harm serious.
"We brought you coffee," declared Harry. He presented his peace offering in a shimmering mug that had a twinkling Christmas tree winking at her.
"You do know the time, right?"
"You know Ron," Harry said with a shrug. "He's still a five-year old at heart."
Before she could respond, a deadly calm Ginny declared, "Ron, if the sun is not up when I open my eyes, they will not find your body until next Christmas."
"What is with these two," Ron asked puzzled. "It's Christmas and there are present, so get up."
After both girls made Ron wait for them to take a shower, which they deliberately prolonged just to annoy him, the group made their way downstairs to the Christmas extravaganza.
Breakfast would have been preferable, Hermione lamented as her stomach gave a dissatisfied grumble, but it was a Weasley tradition to eat after presents. Apparently breakfast wouldn't be eaten otherwise.
The piece of toast waved in front of her face must have been a Christmas miracle, she decided as she made a grab for the food.
"Thought you might be hungry," said the female voice attached to the sustenance providing hand.
"Have I told you today Tonks how much I love you," Hermione asked after swallowing the last of her buttered toast.
"If I knew toast was the way to your heart Mione," began a male voice.
"We would have drowned you in bread a long time ago," finished the male's echo.
"Alas, all we bare is a caffeinated beverage," proclaimed to voice as a second Christmas tree decorated mug was presented to her this morning.
"Fred, George, you are my heroes," Hermione declared as she took a hearty gulp of the bitter liquid from heaven.
"Mione, why weren't you this praising when I gave you a cup earlier," asked a mock-affronted Harry.
"Because," she began in a haughty tone, "You woke me up."
"Ron woke you up," Harry corrected to the amusement of Tonks.
"You helped. I distinctly recall two different pounding rhythms."
"But I brought you coffee," pouted Harry.
"Fine," signed Hermione with an exaggerated eye roll, "You are the best friend a girl could want. Happy now?"
"Completely," said Harry with a firm nod.
"Good," declared Ron. "Because the presents are waiting."
In preparation of the anxious crowd, the gifts had already been sorted and separated. Everyone had an impressive pile this year.
Hermione however was more focused on what the others were opening than the gifts in front of her. She knew she got books from the size of the gifts, which was fine. She loved books and would cherish each one of them.
Her worry however was that the others would feel the same about her gifts.
The first person to pick up the distinctive wrapping paper she used was Ron. He had already tore open most of his presents and apparently left her for last.
The package was a perfect cube, which seemed to befuddle Ron for a moment. He expects a book, Hermione thought dryly. They all do.
None got one however as Ron soon found out as he unwrapped his present to find an autographed Quaffle by the Chudley Cannons.
He stared at it a moment unable to believe his eyes. Then he looked at her and broke into a sudden joys laugh. It was so sudden that Harry who was beside him jumped.
"What," Harry squawked.
"Look," Ron said as he shoved the cube in Harry's face. "Hermione got it."
He turned towards his other best friend who was still sitting anxiously among unopened gifts.
"Viktor," she simply said.
"Well, I don't know another one," she replied stiffly.
"He played them about a month ago and agreed to get it signed."
"You got Krum…"
"Stop gaping, Ronald. It's unattractive."
Ron's red face slowly resumed its normal hue. He whispered a quiet thank you as he continued to look at his gift.
Well, one person seems to like what they got, she thought as she observed Harry digging through his stash to find the matching wrapping paper.
Harry found two gifts. One had Hermione's name as the gifter and the other came from Sirius and Remus. He decided to open Hermione's first. His eyes began to shine when he found a photo album among glass vials. The album contained pictures of his parents in their youth. They catalogued some Marauder victories and defeats—well, James' defeats in receiving praise from an elusive Lily. The pictures of his mother were not all wizard prints. Some were clearly Muggle and depicted a young Lily playing outside in the dirt or opening birthday or Christmas presents.
"How," Harry choked out.
"Your aunt sent the Muggle ones after I agreed to pay for the copies and the others were in the attic."
Harry put down the album and removed one of the glass vials. "What?"
"Memories," Hermione quietly replied.
"Wha…" He tore into the second gift to find a small pensieve.
He turned to Sirius.
"The glass vials contain some of mine and Moony's memories."
Unable to hold onto his tears any longer, they began to flow in earnest as he stumbled towards Sirius. He fell into the only father he had ever known and held on for dear life.
Sirius' eyes took on a light sheen as he released Harry who moved to envelop Hermione into an even tighter embrace.
"You are the best," he whispered into her hair.
Harry finished his round of grateful hugs with Remus who was wearing a happy smile.
"Well, now I'm curious," declared Sirius as he began rummaging through his presents looking for that same paper. It wasn't hard to find. The present was actually a rather large size. "Did you paint me something," Sirius jokingly asked.
"Open it," said Hermione as she wiped the tears Harry's gratitude caused away.
Sirius peeled the paper away to reveal the last thing he would have ever expected. In front of him was his mother's portrait. The irate witch was gagged, but the most shocking thing was that she was off the wall.
Sirius looked from the portrait to Hermione to the black curtains still adorning the wall of the second story landing. He dropped the portrait and raced to the curtains, throwing them back to reveal another surprise. A framed picture of the first Order of the Phoenix rested where his mother's portrait once was.
"It had a forever sticking charm," Sirius declared.
"It was like Super Glue," Hermione replied. "The right mixture and the portrait came right off."
"It was a little spell I found in a book," she said with a casual shrug.
Sirius dragged Hermione into a tight embrace and whispered something into her ear that no one else could hear but saw it turn her cheeks pink.
By this point all the other people assembled were digging out Hermione's gifts to see what she got them.
Ginny gasped at the notebook filled with Hermione's class notes. She would never have to read her boring textbooks again, she thought with amazement. She along with most of the other Gryffindors, Hufflepuffs, and even some Ravenclaws had been begging for just a glance of Hermione's coveted notes.
"Don't tell anyone I gave you that," begged Hermione.
Oh no, Ginny thought. This was definitely the one thing she was keeping away from her other classmates.
Fred and George were next. They discovered a book also, but what was inside the book was invaluable. Hermione had presented them with the holy grail of prank material. She bound in a journal equipped with charms for privacy the schematics of some of the Marauder's infamous stunts along with some of the things she had been working on. The book apparently also has an expansion charm on it so that they would never run out of pages as well as a shrinking charm to keep the book flat.
"I promised," she simple said as she brushed off their speechlessness. She was soon tackled by two enthusiastic redheads who remained by her side discussing things in the journal until the others finished opening their gifts.
Bill received a novel on curse breaking, and Charlie a book on the Muggle mythology of dragons. They both also received a box of potions and ointments for burns, hexes, curses, and more.
Mrs. Weasley got a plant that repelled gnomes.
"Neville helped me with that," Hermione replied to Mrs. Weasley's question of where she found such a plant. "They grow in the Amazon, but it has a spell on it so it will survive in the British climate."
Hermione with the help of Dean Thomas and Colin Creevey wrote A Wizarding Guide to the Muggle World for Mr. Weasley. It contained illustrations and images of various Muggle technologies that had always fascinated Arthur.
"I also modified the spell used on Howlers for the sound effects."
"Sound effects," Mr. Weasley questioned as he turned to the image of a Muggle television when it sudden began to speak.
"The sound is connected to the image, so when the image changes so do the sound. The radio has a collection of music with it. Just tap your wand on the page if you want it to start or stop."
"Th-this is…amazing…th-thank you," declared a stuttering Mr. Weasley already studying his gift with fascination.
Tonks went next. She unwrapped a pair of sensible yet stylish black boots. "Uh…thanks Hermione."
Hermione laughed at her bewildered and somewhat disappointed look. "They have a charm on them that will keep you from tripping."
Tonks beamed and pulled off her combat boots to put on Hermione's gift.
"Alright Moony, let's see yours," demanded Sirius.
"I think I will, Padfoot."
Remus unwrapped a small box with potion vials inside. He looked to Hermione for clarification.
"Pain reliever. They last up to twelve hours, so…"
"They will last the whole transformation," Remus concluded in awe.
"There are also some weaker ones for any lingering pain afterwards," Hermione added. "It was the best I could do."
"It's perfect," he whispered as he held the potion in the light. The light blue color seemed to personify calm and comfort. "Come here."
Hermione went into Remus' welcoming arms eagerly. His embrace reminded her so much of her father that she didn't want to let go. She didn't realize how much she missed her parents until that moment.
"How did you do all this," Remus asked after releasing her.
"I spent most of the year collecting them. I had to start early if I wanted to get everyone the perfect gift."
The morning continued with the rest of the gifts being opened and breakfast shared.
She couldn't help but feel that this Christmas would forever stay close to her heart. She would never forget the smiles and laughs from her adopted family and assorted friends.
As she catalogued the different faces in her mind, Hermione never thought that these memories would keep her sane in the coming hardships. She never even suspected that this would be the last time they would all be together. If she had, she would have grabbed hold of them and never let go. She would have charmed the doors to prevent Sirius from leaving.
But she didn't know.
Instead she sipped her hot chocolate and listened as Sirius and Remus regaled the children with tales of their youth and the misbegotten schemes of James seeking the attention of his love.
AN: Thanks for reading! The sequel to Operation with start after the New Year so keep voting.
Love it? Hate it? Let me know.