Hiya everyone. Hereby one of the two Christmas oneshots of this year!
Disclaimer: like last year: it's almost Christmas; who cares?
I hope you enjoy this little oneshot and a Merry Christmas (or whatever you may celebrate in December) to you all!
It was in the first week of December, on a Monday around seven o'clock in the evening – the one time when most of the students were actually in the Great Hall for dinner – when Dumbledore suddenly stood from his elaborate chair at the Head Table and asked for silence.
Most of the students shared looks before they turned towards the Headmaster – as it was strange that Dumbledore asked for the attention of the entire student body on a normal day of the week – while others, the minority, kept eating.
"Good evening children," he told them merrily, his eyes twinkling and his dark red, heavy robes shimmering between bright red and almost black in the candle light, "as you might know, it'll be Christmas in a couple of weeks. So we, meaning the staff and me, have decided to play a game of 'Secret Santa' this year with the students who will be staying at Hogwarts during the winter holiday."
Harry, Hermione and Ron shared glances, curious if the idea had anything to do with the fact that after the events of last year – their fifth year – everyone now knew that Voldemort was back.
"Therefore we ask of you to inform your Head of House this week if you wish to go home or stay. That was all."
The students turned back to their conversation and their dinner as he sat back down, but the topic of most conversations was the game of 'Secret Santa' and the meaning behind the game.
"Do you think it had anything to do with the looming threat of V-Voldemort?" Hermione asked Harry softly as she patted her bushy brown hair nervously.
"Pwoba'y," Ron said as he swallowed, Harry just shrugged in response before he and Hermione turned towards the rest of the sixth year Gryffindors and started a conversation over the merit of having a 'Secret Santa' for just the Gryffindors while Ron kept eating.
It was the 15th of December, ten days before Christmas that those who had chosen to stay at Hogwarts – meaning most Gryffindors, at least half of the Hufflepuffs, some Ravenclaws, though not as much as those from Hufflepuff, and even a couple of Slytherins – were asked to wait in the Great Hall after dinner. All in all, the Great Hall had emptied quite a bit.
Some of the students were talking enthusiastically about the idea, while others were wondering howthey were supposed to choose their Secret Santa. The Slytherins were just silent.
Harry just hoped he got someone he knew quite well, as he didn't know what he should give someone he didn't know.
"They really want you to be their Secret Santa," Ron whispered softly in his ear, a small teasing smile on his face, "I heard some of the younger years talk about it."
Harry groaned softly and let his bang flop in front of his face to hide from the world, much to Ron's amusement, and he was about to respond when McGonagall re-entered the room with a bright red bowl in her arms, followed closely by Snape, Sprout, Flitwick and Dumbledore.
The students fell silent, too curious about the entire game to keep talking, as McGonagall placed the bowl in the middle of the teachers' table after which she pulled out a list with names.
"I'll be calling your names. When your name is mentioned, please make your way up here and stick your hand in the bowl," she told them, "a small card should jump in your hand. On that card you'll find the name of the person whom you shall give a gift to."
She looked at them all sternly.
"You will give that person a nice gift, regardless of his or her House!" she told them harshly as she watched them all over the edge of her glasses, "the moment you have received your card you'll read the name on it, and hand it to your Head of House. If you are afraid that you'll forget the name on the card, you can ask for a copy."
Her gaze went towards Neville and the boy reddened slightly. Harry wished she wouldn't put the spotlights on Neville like that but knew that the other boy had the reputation of being forgetful, no matter the fact that he wasn't so bad now.
"You're not allowed to tell anyone about the name on your card, except for you Head of House or another teacher," McGonagall continued, "are there any questions?"
One of the Hufflepuffs – a pretty brown haired girl – raised her hand shyly.
"Yes miss Mariën?" Sprout asked kindly.
"What if you draw someone that you don't know at all?" the girl asked softly, "like someone years above or beneath you?"
"The bowl will make sure that you can only receive someone from your own year," Snape drawled as he stared at the girl down his nose, "and if you are not familiar with the person: ask your Head of House."
"Any other questions?" McGonagall asked impatiently trough pursed lips, "no? Good, I'll start with the first years, if your name is called: make your way towards the bowl. After you have handed your card to your Head of House you are allowed to leave the Hall. Albus, if you would."
Dumbledore cleared his throat, "Abbott, James."
And a small mousy boy made his way towards the bowl, stuck his hand in it, pulled a small, bright red card from the bowl, opened it and made his way over to Sprout.
"So that is all it takes?" Ron asked as soon as the boy had left the room and the next first year was called forth.
"Apparently," Harry said, "whose name do you think you'll draw?"
"No clue," Ron said with a shrug as he watched the proceedings, "as long as it isn't Malfoy."
"Ron!" Hermione hissed sternly, "that's not nice!"
"He is Death Eater Hermione," Ron said defensively, "not like he deserves a gift from a hardworking light person!"
The two started to bicker back and forth and Harry couldn't help but sigh. While he would never tell them – as that would mean that he would have to choose a side in their spat – he did agree that everyone deserved a gift for Christmas. It didn't matter that not everyone celebrated it or something else, it mattered that they should spend some time with their families and lived ones. Hell, he didn't even care about the whole gift giving, as long as he had people to celebrate with.
It was almost an hour later – and the Hall was almost empty – when the first sixth year was finally called forth.
Harry watched how Hannah smile brightly as she read the name, how Susan looked puzzled, how Hermione looked like she had gotten a new book in a very foreign language and how Malfoy looked like his world had ended before he snapped back to attention as Dumbledore reached the P and finally his name was called.
He quickly made his way over to the bowl – which seemed a fire-engine red from up close – and stuck his hand in it. A card jumped almost immediately into his hand and he opened it, only to blink as he read the name. Of all the people he could have gotten, he had managed to draw Draco Malfoy. He sighed but made his way over to his Head of House, handed her the card and made his way out of the Hall, all the way pondering what he should get the other boy.
It was a couple of days later – a week before Christmas – and Harry still hadn't a single clue as to what to give the blonde Slytherin.
It was hard enough to think of a gift for someone like Ginny whom he had been just friendly with up until the beginning of this year, but what should he give someone who was spoiled rotten, rich, handsome if the girls around him were any indication and could get everything he wanted – he most likely had everything he wanted. The only things the boy could possibly want was being free from Voldemort, having a famous person like Harry as his 'friend' or his parents back.
Harry blinked as an idea entered his mind. He remembered his thoughts during Ron's and Hermione's little spat during the ritual and wondered if Malfoy's parents were as warm as the Weasleys when they weren't around strangers. Because if they were as cold to the Slytherin as they had been during the Quidditch World Cup it wouldn't be a very nicegift, now would it?
He sighed and resolved to ask it to the one person who would probably know: their ex-potion teacher and new DADA teacher Snape.
It was the next day – and six days before Christmas – that he finally found some time to actually ask the man.
He hesitantly made his way towards the door of Snape's office – which was still in the dungeons – only to hesitate as soon as he had raised his hand to knock. What if the teacher wasn't willing to answer his question? Or worse, what if he told Malfoy?
In the end he just knocked – his hand shaking slightly – and entered the room as soon as the word enter was called.
Harry quickly looked around – mostly to hide his nerves – only to notice that the office hadn't changed a bit from how it had looked during his second year. It was still dark and dank and lined with shelves upon shelves on which stood pots and flasks filled with dead animals and potions in all of the colours of the rainbow and then some more.
"May I ask you what you are doing here Potter?" he heard the man sneer and he flushed as he turned towards the desk. The professor was seated behind the large, dark desk and seemed to be working on checking the essays.
"It's about 'Secret Santa'…" he started.
"No, you can't change the person you've drawn," Snape drawled, his sneer more pronounced, "not even if it is a 'slimy snake'."
"That wasn't what I was going to ask," Harry mumbled before he spoke up, "I wanted to ask you about Malfo… Draco's home life."
"Why do you want to know that?" the greasy haired teacher asked him suspicious, or as suspicious as the normally emotionless teacher could be, "and what does it have to do with this 'Secret Santa'?"
"I… promise you won't tell him," Harry told him quietly.
Snape looked almost intrigued, though he had yet to lose the suspicious lights in his eyes, "fine, I promise not to tell him."
An impatient roll of his eyes accompanied his words, "Now tell me!"
"Everyone should celebrate Christmas with his or her family," Harry said simply.
"What is that supposed to mean?" Snape sneered, "you want to send him to Azkaban? Just as arrogant as your fathe-"
"NO! No, I want to see if I can get Malfo… Lucius out of Azkaban for a couple of days," Harry protested harshly, "Sir."
Snape blinked at him, clearly surprised.
"Why?" he asked warily.
"Everyone deserves to be with his or her family," Harry repeated, "but only if said family really cares about him. So do Malf… Draco's parents love him?"
"Yes," Snape finally told him with a sigh, "they do."
"That's all I needed to know," Harry told him before he added politely, "thank you for your time, sir."
He had sent the letters towards the Minister of Magic right after he had talked to Snape but it was two days later – four days before Christmas – before he finally received a reply.
He had offered to do as the Minister had asked during the summer: give an illusion that he agreed with the Ministry and show his support. But just for the winter holidays.
It was the best thing he could offer for the temporary freedom of a well-known Death Eater and a safe house.
'Dear mister Potter,
After considered speculation about your offer I've decided to agree with the deal you mentioned in your letter. In return for a safe house and the freedom of the Death Eater known as Lucius Malfoy from 24 December till 2 January I want you attend two Ministry Balls, one on the 25th of December and one on the 31st of December, and I want you to give three interviews with a reporter of my choice. Last, but not least, I want four of your afternoons for lunch at the Ministry to show your support.
Have a merry Christmas,
Harry grimaced as he read it but quickly penned a note back with his agreement to the terms.
Now all he had to do was make sure that Mal… Draco, Narcissaand Snape all got a portkey to the safe house so they could celebrate Christmas with their family. As it should be.
It was three days before Christmas – and most of the people who hadn't opted to stay at Hogwarts had left that very morning – and Harry still hadn't gotten a single clue as to howhe should get the family in the safe house. Sure he had a general idea: a portkey, but not the how. Maybe he should ask Snape for help? Or McGonagall… but he doubted that either could help him.
He sighed as he penned a couple of ideas down with notes why it wouldn't work.
In the end, he went to bed late at night without a single clue.
It was two days before Christmas and the day before Ma… Luciuswould be temporarily freed but he still lacked a good way to make sure that the family would be together in the safe house.
Maybe he could send them all a pendant that whisked them away as soon as they touched it? He shook his head as soon as that idea entered his mind. It would never work with the wards around Hogwarts or– probably – Malfoy Manor.
He straightened up from where he was slouching as an idea jumped in his mind. He quickly rose from his chair in the Gryffindor common room, made his excuses towards Hermione and almost ran from the Common room.
He had a House elf to talk to.
It was the day before Christmas and Harry waited nervously for the letter of the Minister. He had made Scrimgeour promise that he would write him as soon as M… Luciuswas free and the man had promised him he would.
Waiting for the letter was all he had left to do. Dobby had promised him that he would 'pop' the Malfoy family and Snape towards the safe house – Harry had promised him a lot of socks in return andtold him it was just for Christmas before he had agreed – on Christmas morning. And the minister had agreed to decorate the safe house the way Harry had wanted it in exchange for one more lunch.
It was a little after five o'clock in the afternoon that the note finally arrived, stating that Lucius Malfoy had been dropped off at the safe house and that he would be picked up again at 9 o'clock in the morning on the second of January to be brought back to Azkaban.
Harry quickly penned a short 'thank you' note before he finally allowed himself to relax. He had done all he could to give someone else a nice 'Secret Santa'.
It was Christmas and Draco had to admit to himself that he was pretty nervous. Only eight Slytherins had decided to stay for Christmas, with only two others from his year. The chance that another Slytherin had him was beyond small.
Nonetheless he hoped that he would get something nice, even though he knew that that chance was just as small.
He sighed as he made his way out of his delightfully warm and soft bed, only to be shocked speechless as soon as he opened the heavy, green curtains of his bed.
In front of him stood one of his father's ex house elves. He believed its name used to be Dabby? Or was it Dibby? It didn't really matter.
"What do you want elf?" he asked roughly, hoping that it wasn't there to tell him that he wouldn´t actually get a gift from ´Secret Santa´ because he had been drawn by a Gryffindor.
"Dobby is here to help yous Secret Santa!" the house elf squeaked, "if nasty ex-master would dress Dobby could bring him to his gift."
Draco didn't really feel like listening to the elf after that but did as he was told, fully aware of what the elf had done to his father after he had tried to kill a certain Scarhead.
"I'm done," he told the elf almost half an hour later.
"Good," the elf told him and touched his hand before they popped away.
Draco drew his wand as soon as they landed and he looked around him suspiciously, only to blink as he noticed the cheerful Christmas decoration, the large Christmas tree, the warm fire and the fact that his godfather was already there.
"What is going on?" he asked bewildered.
"I don't know," Severus answered him as he too looked around.
A door opened behind them and they quickly spun around, both had their wands in their hands. Only to gape as they noticed who had opened the door.
"Dad?" Draco couldn't help but whisper, "how?"
His father just shook his head at him, a small smile on his face.
"What was the spell I made in my sixth year?" Severus snapped harshly from beside him and Draco twisted towards him with a shocked exclamation.
"I hope you mean sectumsempra," his father drawled amused, "because you invented a lot of spells in that year."
Severus relaxed, "it really is you. But how?"
"I don't know," his father said as he fully entered the room and closed the door behind him, "the aurors picked me up from Azkaban yesterday at around four and dropped me here with the warning that they would pick me up on the second of January to bring me back. That's all I know."
Severus looked shocked while Draco made his way over to his father to hug him. He had missed the man.
Suddenly another pop sounded and his mother appeared together with the house elf that had brought him here.
Her wand was out just as quick as theirs had been but it disappeared just as quick as she made her way over towards the due that stood, still hugging, in the middle of the room.
"Lucius," she whispered before she joined the hug, tears in her eyes. Together, the three stood like that for what seemed like forever, before his mother released them and gestured his godfather to join their hug, something the stern, greasy haired man would never do in public and only when he believed he had a verygood reason. Luckily, he decided that this was a good enough reason and he joined them in a hug.
Miles away, a dark haired boy wished them a Merry Christmas as he opened his own gift, a soft smile on his face.
I'll admit that I just wrote this today so I am sorry about the spelling/ grammar mistakes I made.
Anyway: the other story will appear probably tomorrow, though it has nothing to do with this one...
Enjoy the holidays!