December 1st

It was Saturday and luckily not a Hogsmeade one. It was one of the few free days Severus Snape, potions master at Hogwarts school for witchcraft and wizardry, got during a school year. The headmaster himself had promised to take care of any problem that might arise with Slytherin House while their head teacher was away – there would be no problems or they would have to face Severus Snape in his wrath and by December even the first years knew better – and so the potions master apparated to London.

He rarely had time to indulge in shopping at Diagon Alley during the school year, so he made good use of his free day and went exactly there. He hadn´t been to the wizarding shopping street during the season in years. For a while he just enjoyed walking along, taking in the festive decorations and families doing their Christmas shopping.

There were only children under the age of eleven, for the older ones were conveniently locked away at Hogwarts and of the younger ones there were only a few due to the tradition of surprising offspring with their presents.

Snape watched a small blonde witch being dragged from window to window by two raven-haired brats of perhaps eight or nine and rejoiced once again in the fact that he had decided never to produce offspring at a young age.

When he had looked his fill of all the Christmas kitsch, he went to the apothecary´s to place his order for potions ingredients – a clever move as it made the trip a business one and Dumbledore owed him another free day.

After tricking the headmaster – he hoped he´d be able to take the additional day off on summer to go swimming somewhere nice at the seaside – he went to Fortescue´s. The icecream parlour served as a café during the season and Snape indulged in a cup of cocoa with a tiny dash of firewhisky.

His insides warmed pleasantly, the potions master decided to do his Christmas shopping. It would be easier here and now than later at Hogsmeade with several dozens of brats to chaperone at the same time. As he didn´t exchange gifts with many people, it was rather quick.

He purchased several books at Flourish and Blott´s. "Trick Charms" for Filius, "Feline Witches Through the Ages" for Minerva and "Caring for Hovering Hedges" for Pomona. Hidden between those he carried a photobook for Dumbledore. He blushed vigorously when the shop assistant smirked at him, but then it was worth the embarrassment. Dumbledore´s coming out had been THE revelation of the year and after seeing the first two pages of the book (he had snapped it closed then, his face flaming red) Snape was quite sure the headmaster was not going to make a remark about socks when he unwrapped "Wizards, Secrets Revealed".

He was just heading to the Leaky Cauldron for supper – eating without having to hear the babbling of five-hundred youths was going to be bliss – when he noted a small stall, where a tiny, grey-haired wizard with a beard rivaling Dumbledore´s sold boxes decorated in Christmassy patterns.

"What are those?" Snape asked curiously.

"I´m glad that you ask, Sir," said the vendor in a rich bass. "These are magical advent calendars. You have to close it over night and every morning you´ll find a small gift in it. You know that the gift is there when the date shows on the lid. See, this one hasn´t been opened on December, first, the gift is still inside."

"How much are they?" Snape asked despite himself. He usually wasn´t a fan of things like that, but one of the boxes was Slytherin green with silver snowflakes on it and the potions master had to admit it looked quite appealing.

"Five sickles, Sir," said the old man. "I´m selling them as special offers, for those I can´t sell today will be useless. They work only once, so there´s no point for me in keeping them for next year."

"Five sickles? That´s a bargain," answered Snape. "I´ll have the green one."

"Of course, Sir," the tiny wizard beamed. "Thank you and I hope you enjoy your calendar." He wrapped the box in brown paper.

Snape waited until he was in his chambers to open the box. There was a small chocolate bar in it. Mmmmh, milk chocolate with hazel nuts. His favourite.

Severus Snape sat by the fire with a book and enjoyed his evening. The chocolate was delicious.