Disclaimer: JK Rowling owns everything related to Harry Potter. I'm just borrowing it.
A/N: I adopted this bunny from my soul sister, Daughter of Ares, awhile back. Well, I finally was able to finish it for her birthday. She did help write some of the chapters so I am going to give credit to her by putting her name in parentheses after the chapter title. The story idea was totally her own. This story is alternate universe because while it is set during Harry's fourth year, we won't see any of the GOF events and, well, the Order is having Christmas at Grimmauld. I am very proud to say that I helped write this story for DA because it is the only proof that shows that I can too write Severus/Lily fics. I sincerely hope you enjoy. :D
Most Magical Night of the Year (DaughterOfAres)
The tension around the table was palpable. Arthur Weasley had given up some time ago in lightening the mood and now sat silently at the head of the table at Grimmauld Place. Molly sat to his right, glaring daggers at the new arrivals. Judging from the way she was mutilating the chicken on her plate, she was imaging horrible things happening to them.
Next to Molly, Ginny had finished disfiguring her dinner and was openly glaring at the Muggles huddled at the end of the table. Normally she would have talked to Hermione who sat next to her at dinner, but even the bookworm was attempting to fillet their 'guests' with her eyes.
Ron alternated his gaze between the thin woman with the long neck sitting across from him and his best mate, Harry. He then sighed with a look of disgust at the nasty looking woman that unfortunately was related to his solemn friend. Sparing another quick peek, he glanced at Harry. He said nothing as he watched his friend stare intently at his barely touched plate of food. He could tell that Harry was doing his very best to look anywhere but them.
With his wand lying beside his plate within easy reach, Sirius was grinding his food between his teeth while glaring at the fat Muggle across from him. He couldn't keep his thoughts from going dark in the presence of them. He knew precisely just how well they had cared for his godson. Softly releasing a low growl, he stabbed his chicken again, ripping off a piece from the bone in the most violent of ways before eating it.
On Arthur's left and across from Molly and Ginny, Fred and George were unusually silent as they slowly ate their dinner. However, everyone and their Kneazle knew the two were scheming to themselves. Their heads were bent down like always, and their bluish eyes glistened with sinister plots.
Crowded at the corner of the table, three Muggles (the first ever to set foot in Grimmauld Place according to an enraged Mrs. Black) cowered away from the 'freaks' surrounding them. Petunia sat closest to the twins, glaring menacingly at the top of Harry's head, while Vernon was at the corner of the table. His face had an unhealthy red hue to it as he eyed Sirius's wand with disdain. Dudley was situated between his parents, not at all shy about eating more than his share of food.
This had to be the worst Christmas ever, thought Harry with all the angst and melodrama a fourteen-year-old boy could muster. Actually, though, Christmas was still two weeks away. However, for the first day of holiday vacation, it was still turning into the worst holidays ever.
Harry had every intention of spending his Holidays at Hogwarts again this year. That was until the Headmaster had summoned him to his office just before his friends were about to leave. The elderly wizard informed the young man that he could not stay at Hogwarts, but instead would spend the Holidays with his relatives. Harry had pleaded and begged Dumbledore, hoping that at the very least he could stay with his newly acquired godfather. But Dumbledore had been unyielding and sent Harry along to pack his things so he could board the train with his friends.
He had been oddly relieved when a group of people he had never met before came bursting through the front door of the Dursleys' less the two hours after he arrived. They had identified themselves as Aurors, and more importantly, members of something called the Order of the Phoenix before whisking Harry and the Dursleys off to Grimmauld Place. Dumbledore was there waiting for them and explained that the safety of their home had been compromised and they were all in danger. That would have been fine for Harry, but the Dursleys had to stay as well until they could find a new safe house for them or their home could be made secure once more.
Dinner seemed to stretch on for days before the sound of Mrs. Black's screeching voice broke the silence. Everyone's heads turned towards the kitchen entrance as Dumbledore walked calmly into the kitchen. He had a hand on the black clad shoulder of Severus Snape.
Snape's right arm was in a sling and he walked with a slight sway as though he were walking upright through sheer willpower. The entire left side of his face was a kaleidoscope of dark purple and blues. Overall, he looked as though he had just tumbled out of a dryer.
"Oh, my!" exclaimed Molly, seeing the battered man. Jumping up, she rushed over to him. "Come, Severus. Sit down." She then shook her head slowly when he attempted to resist her. "Honestly, Severus, there will be no more of that. You look like you're about to fall over."
Molly then gently nudged the Potions Master to her chair and made sure he was comfortable before moving to fill a glass with water and plate with food.
"Never could keep your nose clean could you, Severus?" Petunia asked from the other end of the table.
Severus turned his head to look at her. Had his face been in its normal condition, the look of shock would have been humorous. As it was, though, it just looked painful.
"What's wrong? Cat got your tongue? Honestly, Severus, I haven't see you looking this bad since you were fourteen. What exactly did you do this time?" Petunia ranted at her target with malice. She had been too afraid to say anything to the other 'freaks' in the room, but she felt safe taking her anger out on Severus, an all too familiar target.
"As always, 'Tuney, it's good to see you, too," Severus said dryly before turning his head to Dumbledore. "Were you going to tell me she was here, Albus?"
"I was hoping she wouldn't recognize you," Albus responded without a smile.
"You know him, Aunt Petunia?" Harry asked too shocked over the way his aunt had addressed Snape to feel embarrassed or angry anymore.
"Of course I do, boy." Petunia snapped, turning to glare at her nephew. "He and your mother were practically connected at the hip when they were nine. They did everything together. I still don't know why they never married."
Harry knew his mouth was hanging open, but couldn't bring himself to care. Snape and his mum were friends! Best friends from the way his aunt was talking since they were kids.
"Perhaps now that you're here, Severus," Petunia raved on despite her nephew's interruption. "You could make yourself useful, as odd as that may be for you, and get my family out of this mess. I have no desire to be around you…freaks!"
Severus remained oddly calm and stared at Petunia for a moment. He then glanced up at Dumbledore, who was now standing by his chair. "I hope you remember what combination of potions Poppy gave me because I want a lifetime supply of it, Albus. I'm higher than Trelawney after her 'sessions.' Frankly, I could care less about anything."
Petunia scoffed and muttered, "Not for the first time, I'm sure."
Severus smirked a bit before he said, "True, Tuney. The first time I felt like this was when Lily nicked that oh-so-wonderful Cannabis from your school bag." His lips upturned just barely as Petunia's mouth opened and closed repeatedly like a snapping turtle. Her face flamed red as she glared at him. "Actually, I think this is much better than that by the way," Severus added as an afterthought.
"Perhaps, Severus," Dumbledore began gently, "you should go to bed. Poppy did say you were to rest."
"And miss verbally sparing with, Tuney?" Snape asked in mock mortification.
"Stop calling me that!" Petunia's temper exploded as she slammed a hand down hard on table, causing the dishes and glasses to rattle.
Severus smirked. Despite bruises covering his face, he looked oddly satisfied. The rest of the table watched in fascination.
Unfortunately, finding a place for the Dursleys proved difficult. Come Christmas Eve, they were still at Grimmauld Place along with the Weasleys, Sirius, Harry, Hermione, and Snape. Oddly enough after the first few days, Snape became the person to keep the peace between the Dursleys and the rest of the occupants of the Grimmauld Place. Granted, he usually did this by starting an argument with Petunia or on occasion Vernon.
Madam Pomfrey had fully healed Snape's injuries two days after his arrival. She had been unable to heal him completely the first time because of the extent of his injuries. However, she had returned at her earliest convenience to heal him. After all, who knew what this new Snape would do?
Despite Snape's unorthodox methods of keeping the peace, Christmas was turning into a nightmare. Dudley was throwing constant tantrums over his lack of gifts, since all of his presents were at Number 4 Privet Drive. This reaction from the plump boy only upset the Wizarding adults more because they knew how Dudley was treated in contrast to poor Harry.
Late Christmas Eve found the odd group gathered in the living room sipping hot chocolate. Arthur seemed determined that they could spend at least a few hours together pretending to enjoy each other's company for the sake of Christmas spirit.
"Perhaps some Christmas carols will bring out the Holiday cheer!" Arthur offered excitedly, while toying with a phonographic turntable (magically enhanced of course).
No one said anything. Though, Snape rolled his eyes. The twins exchanged glances with one another before looking uneasily at their father, who had clearly lost his mind.
"There! That should do it!" Arthur exclaimed proudly placing the needle on the record.
As soon as the needle made contact with the record, a high-pitched shriek emanated from the speakers causing everyone to cover their ears instinctively. Arthur couldn't move fast enough to lift the needle again and halt the horrid screeching. Once everyone's ears stopped ringing, Arthur took the record off the turntable and placed it aside.
"Apparently, there are still a few kinks to work out."
Severus turned on his heel from his position near the door intending to make his escape, but Vernon's words stopped him. He stood for a moment in abject horror at what he was hearing.
"Honestly, man, if you're that intent to listen to Christmas music, have Severus sing a verse or two. Come to think of it. I wouldn't mind hearing him sing again."
"Again?" asked Arthur, grinning like mad. His plan to start some sort of conversation seemed to be working. "Well, Severus, it seems that you've been holding out on us. I had no idea you could sing."
"I can't," Severus threw gruffly over his shoulder before taking another step towards the stairs and the safety of his room.
"Of course you can!" Vernon exclaimed. "I'll never forget the first time I met you. It was the Christmas before Petunia and I married. We went to Petunia's parents' house. You and Lily were still in school, but had come home for the Holidays. The two of you were sitting in front of the piano in the living room singing Christmas carols when we arrived. And I must say the two of you sounded damn good."
Severus froze in his spot. That had been his last good Christmas. He had stayed with the Evans that vacation, not even telling his parents he wasn't staying at Hogwarts. After swallowing down the lump in his throat, he managed to speak not even bothering to turn around.
"I haven't sung a note since Lily died."
Snape made yet another attempt to exit the room, but he was halted again by another voice. This one was much younger and unsure of itself.
"What was her favorite song?"
Harry's question was so quiet that Snape thought he had imagined it at first.
"Pardon?" Snape turned to look at the boy sitting on the floor next to his friends. Harry's large green eyes were pleading. For a moment, he saw Lily with her green eyes begging him to sing just one more song with her. At that moment had the boy asked him to jump off the roof, he would have.
"If she enjoyed singing, sir, she must have had a favorite song. Do you know what it was?"
Snape hesitated for a moment before answering. "She had many favorites from different categories. But her favorite Christmas carol was Silent Night." He didn't wait to see Harry's or anyone else's reaction. He fled. Emerald eyes followed him the entire way.
Harry couldn't sleep. It had nothing to do with the fact that Christmas Day was a mere twenty minutes away or that he'd be spending his first Christmas with his godfather and friends. It was because he was trying to remember what a particular Christmas song sounded like.
Ever since Snape had told him his mother's favorite carol, he'd been trying to imagine her singing it, even though he couldn't remember what her voice sounded like. He brought a picture of his parents into the study downstairs where an old piano was tucked into a corner. It was dusty from disuse causing his nose to itch when he lifted the lid covering the keys. He had no idea how to play, but placed his fingers on the keys anyway.
He pressed down on a random key oddly startled when it made noise. He propped the picture up on the piano stand and sat on the dust-covered bench. He tried to imagine the smiling woman in the picture sitting beside him on the piano bench singing Silent Night to him as he watched her fingers dance over the keys. He didn't notice the second time he hit the key on the piano or that he kept hitting the same key over and over again.
Snape found it difficult to sleep. His thoughts were constantly drifting to a certain redhead. He was remembering the last Christmas they'd spent together. It had been a month filled with wonderful memories. But each memory pushed him further and further into depression. He felt guilty that he couldn't save her, miserable that he had destroyed their friendship, and profoundly sad that her son had never heard her sing. At least not that he could remember.
Abandoning his attempts to sleep for the moment, he stood from his bed and throwing a robe on headed downstairs to find something to drink. At the bottom of the steps, he paused. His sensitive ears picked up an unusual sound. With bare feet moving silently over the carpeting, he followed the noise. As he came closer to the study, he began to recognize the sound. His eyes narrowed as he realized that it was the same note being played over and over again at uneven intervals.
With his wand in hand, he cautiously pushed open the door. Peering inside, he immediately saw the culprit. Sighing, he pocketed his wand before striding determinedly across the floor.
"Mr. Potter," he purred dangerously, smirking as the child jumped in his seat and spun around to face him. "I trust there is a reason you're trying to wake the neighborhood up with your dismal musical talent."
"I…I…" Harry stammered, trying to think of something to tell his professor.
Snape raised an eyebrow and crossed his arms over his chest, glaring down at the boy. "Didn't anyone ever tell you that Father Christmas won't come unless you're asleep in bed like a good little boy?"
Harry glared up at his professor. "I was trying to remember."
"Remember what, Potter?" Snape asked. Impatience colored his voice.
Harry looked down studying the carpet as his toes tried to grab hold of it. "What Silent Night sounded like," he whispered.
Snape froze. Glancing behind the boy, he could see the picture of Lily and James smiling. Lily's eyes seemed to pierce his soul, and he couldn't look away.
Man and boy remained still for a moment. Each lost in their own thoughts. Eventually, Snape looked down at the boy still sitting on the piano bench. He tilted his head to the side to confirm what he was seeing was not just a trick of the poor lighting coming from a single small lamp across the room.
Slowly, he reached out his right hand and brushed away the single tear sliding down the boy's cheek. Harry jerked his head back in shock and looked up at the professor not knowing what to expect.
Snape's hand returned to his side as he studied the boy in front of him. With a deep breath, he came to a decision that would hopefully allow both of them to go back to sleep.
"Slide over," Snape commanded, sitting on the end of the bench as Harry eased his way to the edge.
Though out of practice and a bit stiff, Snape's fingers easily found the appropriate keys as he softly played Lily's favorite Christmas song on the piano. Though a bit rusty, his voice overcame its disuse as his rich baritone filled the room.
Harry watched Snape's fingers on the keys in amazement as he listened to the song his most loathed professor was singing. He didn't even notice his tears. Snape only sang the first verse of Silent Night, so the carol was finished in about a minute. When the song ended, neither one moved as they attempted to regain control of their emotions.
"Merry Christmas, Mr. Potter," Snape finally said softly, breaking the silence.
"You too, sir. Thank you," Harry whispered.
Both then stood up from the piano bench. Harry picked up his picture, while Snape lowered the cover over the keyboard.
Taking a couple steps away from the musical instrument, Snape for reasons he didn't know or couldn't understand placed his hand on the boy's shoulder. The second his fingers gently squeeze the thin shoulder, Severus felt a strange sensation surround Harry and him. Harry must have felt it as well because they both stopped as the something swirled around them.
It was as if they were standing in the middle of a whirlwind. The more it swirled, the more tangible it felt until it felt like fingers brushed against them. Gradually, the swirling moved away from them, but didn't stop. It only began moving faster and faster and taking on a light green color.
Snape's hand was grasping his wand, while his left hand remained on Harry's shoulder.
Suddenly, just as Harry was about to ask the professor what was going on, the room exploded in a green light that looked oddly familiar to Harry.