SHAKE ON IT CHRISTMAS
Word count: 2554
Summary: A Christmas continuation of Shake On It
A winter and a summer had come and gone since Snape moved in with Harry. While they both realized by now they would never have a regular father-son relationship, overall Harry thought things could have been worse.
While the former professor strongly objected to what he perceived as charity, after recovering from his illness, he had grudgingly accepted room and board at Harry’s house, for which he paid by tutoring the young man in several areas so he could continue on his quest to gain all NEWTs. He also did some freelance work for the Weasley twins, who were delighted with the resulting gags and pranks. They had eventually given him a share in the profits of their store, and the results were such that the older man had been able, in less than a year, to replenish his savings.
Harry stretched lazily, one morning early in December. He had allowed himself the month off, and spent the first few days of it visiting Hermione. She had only six months left of her studies in Sydney, and was beginning to stress out over taking the tests come summer.
Snape entered the room, holding out a few parchments.
“Oh,” Harry sighed, looking them over. “Invites from the Weasleys to their Christmas party, of course. Invitation from the Ministry for their annual Christmas party…Christmas party…Christmas party…”
The dark man frowned. “You don’t seem overly excited,” he remarked as he carefully opened the few parchments addressed to him.
“Well it’s…I don’t know. What parties are you supposed to attend?” Harry asked curiously.
“The Weasleys have invited me as well,” the wizard scowled, but it was only token resistance. The fact that he was included meant a lot to him. “Poppy and Minerva are both expressing their hopes I will still make an appearance at the Christmas party at Hogwarts. Oh, and Albus asks that I meet him for lunch on Boxing Day.”
Harry stared morosely at the pile in his hand.
“Surely the fact that so many people wish to be in your company can’t be that depressing?” Snape eyed him carefully.
“Well, no,” Harry shrugged, “it’s not that I don’t appreciate it…though I wouldn’t go near a Ministry party if my life depended on it…but it’s not…well, at Hogwarts, Christmas was always with everyone who stayed at school during the holidays, and the teachers. Fun, but hardly informal. Much as I love the Weasleys, they invite just about everyone to their party, and they’re such a big group already – it’s noisy, and chaotic…good food, though,” he admitted with a grin.
Then sobering, he continued, “When I was little, I used to peek through the cracks of my cupboard…Christmas evening and Christmas morning were such special times to my aunt and uncle. Christmas evening they’d have a nice dinner, then hot chocolate and a movie together on the couch. Cozy. On Christmas morning, it would be just the three of them, Dudley unwrapping his gifts and Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon exchanging presents. Then Uncle Vernon would help Dudley put together one toy or another, Aunt Petunia would go see if she had things in the house to try out one of the recipes from the annual cookbook Uncle Vernon always got her, and make a treat if she had…” Harry shrugged. “I guess when I think of Christmas, when I used to think of how I would want Christmas, it’s always that, you know. Intimate. Calm. No busy hustle and bustle. Not that I minded at Hogwarts; I mean, I’d never even gotten to celebrate Christmas before…”
Snape squirmed a little. Since he had seen Harry’s memories of his childhood, and realized how wrong he’d been about the boy’s upbringing, his own taunts during those years at Hogwarts came back all the more fiercely.
“Well,” Harry shrugged again, “I’ll see what I’ll do about those later.”
A Floo call interrupted Hermione’s studies. Due to the time difference, the few calls she got were usually not made at a time that she considered anywhere near reasonable, though Harry did try.
Hermione nearly jumped in surprise. “Professor Snape?”
A slightly embarrassed look on the man’s face made her realize that this was to be quite an unusual call, and she mentally closed her books for the afternoon.
“I am not a Professor anymore, Miss Granger…though as one of your former professors, I must say I am well pleased that you made it into this program.”
That almost made Hermione faint with shock, before she remembered that things were different now. It was difficult to reconcile the tales Harry told her of the biological father that now shared his home as a friend of sorts, with their formal, harsh and often unfair teacher.
“Th-thank you,” she managed. “Is there anything I can do for you, sir?”
“Ah, yes.” The dark eyes stared at a point near her feet – not difficult when in a fireplace. She sat cross-legged on the floor. “It is about Harry, actually. He recently received many invitations to a large variety of Christmas parties. However, he expressed great reluctance to attend them. Even the party at the Weasley residence. He desires a more…intimate celebration.”
Hermione nodded. “That’s no great surprise to me, Pro…sir. Harry’s never been one for big parties, and after the Dursleys…well, I think he just wants some peace and quiet.”
The man was clearly relieved that she had understood immediately. Hermione nearly grinned.
“I have been planning…I would like to give Harry that kind of Christmas. I will send notes to the official parties, and explain the situation to the Weasleys. I plan to take care of decorations and prepare a nice dinner. I had hoped you and perhaps Mr Weasley, as his friends, would consider coming. If the costs of the journey are prohibitive for you, I can arrange something. I myself shall attend the Weasley party to make sure Molly does not feel the need to somehow kidnap Harry and feed him.”
The girl smiled at him, a warm, friendly smile. “I like your idea very much, sir,” she said, “but if I might make a few suggestions…?”
Harry frowned as he came home to an empty house again. He knew this was the busiest time for Fred and George’s shop, but surely they did not keep Severus in their store indefinitely? He could not imagine anyone detaining the man if he did not want to be detained, anyway.
With a shrug, he moved to the kitchen to make some dinner. Severus was a grown man, more than capable of handling himself. Perhaps he had found another interesting research project; he was known to forget all about eating, sleeping, or indeed the fact that other human beings exist when an interesting project came along. Harry snickered a little – Minerva and Poppy did not appreciate those habits at all, and Snape was likely to get into trouble with them over it.
Chopping up some vegetables and chicken, Harry stared at the Christmas lights that decorated other houses. He had not bothered to do his own decorating, considering he was never home for Christmas.
The front door opened and closed. He called out a greeting that was rather hastily returned. Then feet moved up the stairs. Minutes later, Severus entered the warm kitchen.
“Hey,” Harry looked up, “are you in for dinner tonight? I made soup – it’s just the weather for it.”
An elegant eyebrow raised, Severus inquired, “Does the weather dictate what dishes appear on our table now?”
“Well, no, but it’s cold and I felt like making soup because of that.” Harry put the plates out. “What are you up to, anyway? I haven’t seen you much lately.”
“The shop is busy,” Snape replied evasively, “and various other projects. I wasn’t aware you were uncomfortable without my presence.”
Harry rolled his eyes. “You are free to do as you please. I just…noticed your absence.”
“So, are you going to the Weasleys for Christmas?” Harry asked. “I have yet to decide where I am going. Maybe on Christmas Eve I’ll just put all invitations in a hat and draw one.”
“A reliable, considerate way of selecting one’s holiday occupation, I am sure.” Severus shook his head. “But considering the circumstances, probably as good a method as any.”
Harry went out the day before Christmas, strolling through Muggle London, getting the last of his presents to send to friends, and generally have a fun but lonely day.
He Apparated home in the late afternoon. Turning to his house, he blinked and checked the number, certain he had accidentally landed in the wrong spot. Light shone through the windows, which had been divided with red tape in small squares. The lower ones had snow sprayed on them.
“What the…?” Harry scratched his head before walking in.
The hall was flooded with light, as well, and when he walked into the living room he gaped at the large tree that had been set up there. It reached to the ceiling, had a gold star on top, and was decorated in gold and silver. A truly indecent pile of presents were scattered around it. Throughout the room, candles glowed.
The door behind him opened, and delicious smells from the kitchen and dining room area wafted into the room, along with Severus.
“I considered adding red,” the velvet voice was shaking slightly, as if very nervous, “but I thought this more stylish. I…”
Seeing the younger man was not going to regain his speech anytime soon, Severus pressed on.
“When you explained your wishes about your ideal Christmas, I resolved to give you that. I consulted with Miss Granger and explained that I excused you from all parties you were invited to. Arthur Weasley was sympathetic and understanding, even if Molly was slightly disappointed. You will join them for a quiet tea on Boxing Day, when I go to visit Albus, if you wish. I…I did the decorations, and dinner is waiting.”
He cleared his throat and looked away. “I told Miss Granger I was going to arrange for her and Mr Weasley to be here, but she insisted that I be the one to celebrate this Christmas with you. I hope…if she was mistaken in believing you would not mind, I will be happy to take my leave…”
Harry stared at him. “You…you did all this…for me?” he asked, bewildered. “Mind? No, I do not…I would like to celebrate Christmas with you, I…you mean I really don’t have to go to all those parties?”
“No. I extended your sincere apologies that you would be unable to make it. The Ministry was most disappointed, but they eventually came to see that your wishes in this regard far outweighed any ‘public duty’ they meant to place upon you.”
Harry nearly giggled, having some inkling on how, exactly, the Ministry came to that insight. “So…what’s the plan?”
He walked into the dining room. Plates had been set out, the atmosphere festive yet cozy.
“I have made dinner.” Severus directed Harry to a chair. “Tonight, we will see a Muggle film Miss Granger assured me is traditional Christmas entertainment – A Christmas Carol. I have read the book, of course, but never saw this film. There will be hot chocolate involved.”
He pointed in the general direction of the Christmas tree. “Tomorrow morning, you can unwrap your presents. Just promise you won’t wake me at five to do so.”
“You mean those are for me?” Harry shook his head. “I will add yours to the pile, and we will open them together.”
“You have bought me presents?”
An awkward silence was broken a full minute later by the sound of a kitchen timer.
“Which ghost would you fear most?” Harry asked, lazily sipping more hot cocoa.
“The Ghost of Christmas Past, hands down,” Severus answered. “My present is quite good, and my future seems more hopeful now than it ever was before. It is my past that is a frightening, regrettable experience I would rather forget.”
“Same here.” Harry held up his mug in a toast. “Though it wasn’t all bad. Most of the good things I kept, though, so I’m not sure it really counts as ‘past’. You and I certainly get along much better.”
“We do. I had never expected that, not since Albus told me of our relationship when you were fourteen. When I say I regret my past, I regret the manner in which you were conceived, but I hope you understand that I do not regret conceiving you. You are…more than I deserve, and I am proud of you.” His black eyes softened a little in the light of the candles. “Do not expect me to lavish you with praise as if you were a toddler going potty for the first time, though.” The sneer was almost a smile.
“Never, oh fearful Potions Master,” Harry laughed, then grew pensive. “I don’t think I’d like the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come much, though. I have had enough of prophesies.”
“If the Wizarding World had taken that ghost’s warning, it would not have been YOUR prophecy,” Severus pointed out. “It is merely what would come to pass if nothing changed. Had the Wizarding World changed its ways, you would not have had to fight the Dark Lord alone, nor so early in life. I would say that one fictional ghost is wiser than all the Wizarding World.”
“Hmmm. Perhaps we could enlist these ghosts to visit some people,” Harry mused. “Do you think Albus would appreciate them?”
Severus chuckled in amusement. “He would offer them endless lemon drops and tell them it was all for the Greater Good. I should do some research to see if there isn’t some way to Summon them.”
With a soft chuckle, they watched the ‘happily ever after’ of the movie in companionable silence.
The next morning, Harry walked down to find Severus on the couch with two cups of tea, croissants, and boiled eggs.
“I know traditionally we need to unwrap before breakfast, but I found myself in need of tea,” Severus excused himself.
“By all means.” Harry sipped his own tea, then inspected the obscene amount of presents. “Shall we, then?”
They took a long time unwrapping. Each present was carefully opened and admired. The little ceremony was comforting for both of them, and Severus found himself enjoying the quiet time immensely. He also was the recipient of several thoughtful gifts from Minerva, Poppy and Albus, the Weasley Twins, and their parents. But the majority of his pile came from the young man sitting next to him, who was opening his own packages with large, bright, childlike eyes. As Snape watched, something swelled in his chest. He had long felt out of place here, embarrassed for the perceived charity he was receiving. Now, at long last, he felt at home.
Harry Banished the wrapping paper when they were finally done. “This was the best Christmas ever,” he sighed happily, and suddenly leaned forward to quickly hug his father.
“Thank you.” He made to release Severus before the man hexed him, but to his surprise, a hand came up to hesitatingly pat his back.
“I should thank you,” Severus allowed, “but you are very welcome. Merry Christmas, Harry.”