Elena is mine but everything else belongs to a lovely woman named J.K Rowling.
The bell rang and the kids ran out the door excited to start two weeks of vacation. Elena chased after Harry.
"Hey Harry wait up!" He turned around. She handed him a box beautifully wrapped in shiny paper.
"I just wanted to give you this. Merry Christmas." She smiled at him. He took the present and stared at it.
"Thank you," he finally managed to say. "It's beautiful."
"Well you still have to open it silly." He blushed slightly.
"I know that."
"You don't have to open it now though. I just wanted to make sure I caught you before you left."
"I didn't get you anything," he said slightly abashed. She smiled anyway.
"That's ok. I don't mind."
"Are you sure?"
"Absolutely." He slid the present into his backpack where it would be safe.
"I'll open it when I get home. Thanks Elena."
"You're welcome. Have a good holiday."
"Yeah you too." She ran off and Harry stared after her wondering what on earth she had gotten him. He couldn't wait to open his Christmas present. He was brought back to earth by a harsh thump to the back of his head.
"How's your guuuuurlfriend?" Dudley taunted. Harry rubbed the back of his head.
"She's not my girlfriend."
"Sure she's not. Carry this." Dudley dumped his backpack on Harry who staggered slightly. They walked to the car in silence.
"Dudders!" Aunt Petunia cried out when they got to the car. "How was school?" He shrugged and hopped in the front seat.
"Kind of stupid. We did this weird hunt for Santa which was lame. There were cookies though." She smiled at him.
"Are you hungry at all? I brought you a snack." Dudley crunched the chips his mom had brought him loudly all the way home. When they got to the house Harry tried to hurry to his cupboard to open his present but Aunt Petunia stopped him.
"And just where do you think you're going?"
"I was just going to-"
"There's chores to do. We have to get this place ready for the party tomorrow." Harry groaned inwardly. His Aunt and Uncle threw an annual Christmas party every year and it was awful. A lot of middle aged women who cared too much about their appearances would stand around in the kitchen drinking cocktails and complaining about their husbands while their husbands sat in the living room watching sports and drinking scotch. Dudley always got to spend the night at a friends house and Harry always had to serve drinks and wash dishes. He spent the better part of the next three hours scrubbing the kitchen floor with a toothbrush and then rubbing the white cabinets down with bleach. Dudley lounged around and ate chocolate and Aunt Petunia paged through a cookbook and tried to come up with a recipe that would astound her friends. Harry found himself thinking longingly of the family he had asked Santa for. He tried to picture how his parents would spend Christmas if they were alive. The problem was that he didn't know what they looked like. In his mind's eye he saw two faceless people in Christmas sweaters sitting in the Dursley's living room. Somehow that didn't really measure up to what he wanted. He sighed and continued to scrub.
When Uncle Vernon got home Aunt Petunia pulled the roast ham out of the oven and they all sat down to dinner.
"How was work darling?" She asked him dishing up some potatoes.
"Lousy," He took a large drink of wine. "Our two new interns just run around and messed things up. I don't even know why they're there. Apparently they're supposed to be helpful but I say we'd get things done faster if we didn't have them. You know one of them actually had the audacity to ask me if he was allowed to take a break for lunch? What a stupid question! Kids these days I tell you." Aunt Petunia shook her head knowingly.
"Mr. Lupin says there's no such thing as a stupid question." Harry interjected. Uncle Vernon turned to look at him very slowly.
"What was that boy?" Harry gulped.
"No you said it and now I want to hear it. What did you say?"
"Only that my teacher Mr. Lupin says that there's no such thing as a stupid question."
"Oh well if Mr. Lupin says it than it must be true. You think he's pretty smart do you? Think he has all the answers?" Harry cowered in his seat. He wished he hadn't said anything.
"Well why don't you ask him why you're being sent to your cupboard without eating the rest of your dinner? Oh wait I'll tell you. Because you're an arrogant little snot who thinks he can say anything he wants to and just for that no meals tomorrow either." Harry stared at him.
"Please Uncle Vernon I'm sorry. I didn't mean to-"
"Go to your cupboard now! I'm not going to say it again." Uncle Vernon's face was two shades redder than it usually was. Dudley smirked quietly in his seat. Harry stood up and walked to his cupboard; tears stinging in his eyes. It was so unfair. He hadn't done anything wrong. He sat on his bed for awhile fuming until he remembered Elena's present. He jumped up and pulled it out of his backpack. With shaking hands he slit open the pretty paper and opened the box. Inside was a stack of books. He pulled them out one by one. She had given him Mathilda by Roald Dahl, Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, Hoot by Carl Hiaasen, and The View from Saturday by E. L. Konigsburg. There was a card too. It read-
These are four of my all time favorite books. Since we move so much I'm the new kid a lot and I know what it's like to be lonely. All of the characters in these books are smart and brave and have become real friends to me. I hope you like them as much as I do. Merry Christmas!
He read the card through twice and blinked back more tears. Elena was the nicest kid his age that he had ever met. He folded up the wrapping paper neatly and stuck it and the card in the loose floorboard under his bed where they would be safe. He then sat on his bed, opened up Mathilda, and began to read.
A week later Christmas morning dawned white and cold. Harry awoke with a yawn and found that he had fallen asleep reading one of Elena's books again. He closed it neatly and picked a spider off of his pillow. He could smell Aunt Petunia frying up their typical Christmas breakfast of pancakes and sausage and so he wandered into the kitchen before she could get mad at him for not helping.
"Good morning Aunt Petunia. Merry Christmas."
"Morning," She said stiffly. Harry glanced dejectedly at the Christmas tree in the living room. It was fairly bursting with presents but he was sure none of them were for him. He imagined that his real parents would have gotten him awesome gifts. Maybe a bike like Dudley's or a sled. He had never gone sledding but it looked like a lot of fun. Maybe his parents would have taken him sledding and then they could all have watched a movie together and drank hot chocolate with peppermint. That sounded like a perfect Christmas to him.
"Quit standing there and set the table," Aunt Petunia snapped at him. Uncle Vernon came in.
"Comb your hair boy," he said in his typical fashion. "For god sakes it's a holiday."
When breakfast was over and the dishes were washed they all sat down and Dudley attacked his gifts. His parents had gotten him several new computer games, a nerf gun, a football, a skateboard, a couple of new shirts, a lego pirate ship, and lots of other things that Harry was jealous of. Uncle Vernon got his wife a new apron, some perfume, random kitchen utensils that she seemed delighted with but Harry couldn't find a use for, a pedicure set, and a diamond tennis bracelet. She got him an assortment of ties, a mug with a picture of the three of them on it, an engraved pen, and some new golf clubs. To Harry's great surprise they had generously given him some old clothes of Dudley's and a bag of stale oyster crackers. No one yelled at Harry and Dudley didn't pitch any tantrums so all in all it was a very good Christmas.
Much later that evening after dinner had been cleaned up and everyone was upstairs for the night Harry snuck out of the house for a minute. He stood on the porch and looked at all of the pretty lights reflecting off the snow. It was quiet and peaceful. He could faintly hear singing coming from the church down the street. If Uncle Vernon had been there he would have complained about it but Harry thought it was nice.
A large and rather misshapen bird swooped past the streetlight and flapped toward the house. Harry hardly had time to wonder why it looked the way it did when it stopped on the railing in front of him and perched there. It was an owl. A beautiful owl with a package tied to its leg and sure enough the package was addressed to him.
"For me?" He whispered to the owl. It hooted slightly and he took that as a yes. Slowly he untied the package and petted the owl's feathers. It hooted again and flew away.
"Thank you," Harry called after it feeling a little foolish. Shivering slightly he slipped back inside the house and into his bedroom. He had no idea who the mysterious package was from but he was anxious to find out what it was. Inside the box was an assortment of chocolate from a company he had never heard of called Honeydukes. He unwrapped some of it and took a bite. It was good chocolate. Continuing to much he opened up the card. Inside was a photograph of a man, a woman, and a baby all sitting by a Christmas tree. Hoping for an explanation he looked on the back. It read, Harry's First Christmas – December 1981.
He gasped and looked closer at the picture. Staring at it he realized that he was seeing his parents for the first time. His Aunt and Uncle didn't keep any pictures of them in the house and he had no idea what they looked like. His mom was beautiful. She had long red hair and a kind face that wasn't even a little harsh or bony like Aunt Petunia's. If he hadn't known better he wouldn't have thought they were even related. Behind a pair of round glasses his dad smiled up at him. They had the same untidy black hair that Uncle Vernon hated so much. Both his parents were smiling and they just looked so happy. He stared at his baby self and decided that he looked happy too. Wondering who would have sent him the picture he looked at the card but it wasn't signed. It just said – In case you don't have a picture to remember you parents by. They loved you with all their hearts. Always remember that and merry Christmas. He stared at the picture long into the night memorizing every inch of his parents faces. He fell asleep with it clutched in his hand and a smile that verified it was the best gift he could have ever received.
AN: I'm on a roll! Three chapters in two days. I think that means that it's time for you guys to review... :)