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Chapter 23 : Happy Holidays
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A week before Christmas:
Severus swallowed the Sore Throat Elixir grimly, chasing down the bitter brew with a glass of ice water. “Mother, are you sure I’ll be better in time for Christmas? And will Lily too?”
Eileen felt his forehead expertly. “Your fever is almost gone, son. And the sore throat should be gone too by this time tomorrow.” She gently tilted his head up and felt the glands beneath his chin. They were no longer swollen, which meant the infection was nearly gone. “Drink your cranberry juice and eat your porridge, Severus.” She instructed, handing him the tray of food to eat.
Severus sighed and picked up his spoon. He wasn’t all that hungry, but Eileen insisted he eat a little more each day. “How about Lily? She got sick too, didn’t she?”
Eileen nodded. “Yes, but she’s mending as well. Don’t worry, Sev. You’ll be well in time to celebrate Christmas with the Evanses. And you’ll get well sooner if you eat that porridge instead of glaring at it.” She turned to pick up a cardboard box that she had laid on his desk when she brought in his breakfast.
“What’s that? You get a package?” he inquired, after swallowing a spoonful of porridge.
Eileen paused and said, “No. It’s your father’s Christmas present. I’m sending it to him today. It’s nothing much, just a few small things to remind him of the reason for the season.”
Severus stared at her. “You what?” he cried before he could think better of it. “Why would you want to send that bloody bastard anything for Christmas? Let him rot in jail!” he spat bitterly.
Eileen turned to face him, her eyes flashing. “Severus Snape! You watch your mouth, young man! Or else sick or not, I’ll use a Mouthwash Charm on you!” She gave him a very pointed glare that made him hang his head and squirm guiltily. “Now, I can’t blame you for feeling the way you do towards your father, but even he deserves some kind of acknowledgement on Christmas. It’s the season of giving, after all.”
“And he’s giving us all a holiday from his miserable presence,” Severus groused. “Sorry for my mouth. But seriously, Mum, why would you waste money and time on him? You don’t love him anymore and he sure as blazes doesn’t love you. Or me either.”
“Oh, Severus,” Eileen set the box down and came and stroked his hair off his forehead in a tender gesture. “It’s true, your father hasn’t treated either of us well, and for that I am sorry. But once he loved me, long ago, and you too, before he changed. I kept hoping that he would remember that and mend his ways but that was not to be. Even so . . .it’s a terrible thing to be alone on Christmas, and I would not wish that on anyone, even Tobias. I send him these small things in remembrance of what we shared, because it is the right thing to do.”
Severus gazed up at his mother, whose dark eyes were the same as his own, filled with old regrets and sorrow, but also a fierce determination as well. He didn’t like the fact that she felt obligated to send Tobias a Christmas gift, but he could understand. His mother was a firm believer in discharging debts and also forgiving people. Until Tobias had done the unforgivable, that is, by breaking his sworn promise to get along with his son and quit drinking that summer. “I understand. I don’t like it, but I understand why you’re doing it.” He said at last. Then he added, “This doesn’t mean you’ve . . .forgiven him, right?”
“No, Sev. What he has done is beyond even my forgiveness. He had this coming for a long time, and it was something I wish I’d had the courage to do years ago, when he first lifted a hand to you. And for that, Sev, I ask your forgiveness.”
“You have it, Mum. Always,” he said, and gave her a one-armed hug, nearly upsetting his breakfast tray. “Mail the package and then let’s forget about him. Let’s make this a really happy Christmas, Mum. I know the Evans always invite me over for dinner, but this year you can come too, now that he’s not here.”
“Are you sure, Sev? I wouldn’t want to impose . . .”
“Polly said the invitation was for both of us,” Severus insisted. “Because no one should be alone on Christmas,” he reminded her.
Eileen smiled. “Very well. I shall write Polly and tell her that I accept. It’s been a long time since I’ve kept Christmas with friends.”
“You going to bake something?” asked her son knowingly.
“Of course. It wouldn’t do to show up empty handed.” Eileen said, then she rose and picked up the package. “I’ll be back in fifteen minutes and you had better have eaten at least half your breakfast, or else I’ll spoonfeed it to you.”
“Merlin, Mum! I’m not five.”
“Prove it then,” she challenged and sailed out the door.
Severus made a face as the door shut, then resumed eating his breakfast. He was determined to get well, though he wished that Eileen would find someone else to bestow her affection on. Not that he wanted a stepfather or anything, but his mother needed to stop thinking about Tobias, the no good bounder, and a decent man, Muggle or wizard, would help her forget. He was also relieved that Lily would be getting better, since he felt guilty for getting her sick. He knew that he shouldn’t have kissed her, not after tending his mother all day, but he hadn’t been able to resist her, the chemistry between them was too strong. He smiled to himself and thought, Get well soon, Lil. I miss you and I dearly want to see the expression on your face when you open my gift.
* * * * * *
The same day:
James lay on his bed, idly twirling a golden chain between his fingers, watching as the locket upon the end of it rotated around and around. He had found the locket up in the attic of the manor, in a chest of old jewelry from the time of his grandmother. His mother had inherited many pieces from her mother and grandmother, who had been jewelers by trade, enchanting jewelry to sell. When James’ grandmother had died, before he had been born, Liana had inherited her mother’s collection of unusual and old pieces, a chest containing over one hundred of them, including pendants, earrings, bracelets, brooches, and anklets.
He had recalled the chest’s existence that morning, while lying in bed thinking about Petunia, and how he still needed to get a Christmas present for her. He could have easily bought her an expensive necklace or earrings from any jeweler in Diagon Alley or Muggle London, but he had wanted it to be . . .special. Something that she could see meant something, that showed her that he wished her to be welcome in his world and in his heart. And what better way to do that than to give her a family heirloom?
He had spent three hours digging through the chest before finally settling upon a rose-gold locket etched with roses and forget-me-nots. Inside was a space to put a picture and the inscription in Latin My heart, I cherish you. It was a beautifully crafted piece, but best of all, it was enchanted to make the wearer feel her beloved’s heartbeat, and also to glow if the wearer needed light. Minor enchantments, but ones that even Petunia would be able to feel and command, since the locket was attuned to the one the wizard gave it to, no matter if she was magical or not. He had made sure of that, reading the information about the piece in a large leather volume his great-grandmother had penned about all the items inside the trunk.
“I think she’ll really like this, Kizzy,” he told Kismet, who was curled up on his chest, purring loudly. “She seems the type to appreciate something like this, something with a history, and not just a pretty bauble. Know what I mean?”
Kismet yawned and began to groom herself lazily.
James chuckled. “Ah, what would you know, you’re a cat.”
Kismet flashed him an annoyed look and he petted her in apology.
“Sirius thinks it’s just a fling, that I’ll forget all about her once I go back to school, but he’s wrong. Petunia’s not like those other girls I dated before. They were nice and all but I never . . .they never made me feel anything wonderful. When I kissed them it was pleasant, but there was no spark, no fire in my blood, nothing that made me feel as if I had finally found my heart’s desire. Even when I kissed Lily . . .”
He gently laid the locket upon his nightstand, next to his glasses, and put his hands behind his head. “But when I kissed Tuney . . .oh, Kismet! I felt as if I had flown off the top of a mountain without a broom. She was so sweet, so consuming, so . . .I can’t even think of a word to describe what I felt. She was like fire and ice and I felt as if I had been waiting my whole life for someone like her. And in that moment I found her.” He sighed dreamily. “I never felt like this about a girl. Never! Sirius thinks I’ve transferred my obsession to Petunia because she’s Lily’s sister, but he’s wrong. I would love her no matter whose sister she was. Muggle or witch. Somehow, though she comes from one world and I from another, we belong together.”
Kismet purred her approval and James smiled. Now all he had to do was convince his parents that Petunia was a fit match for him, even if she was a Muggle. He didn’t think it would be that hard, they weren’t prejudiced against Muggles like most purebloods, (his Aunt Muriel came to mind) and he had always been able to persuade them around to his way of thinking. And once they met her, they would love her, he was sure of it. It would be harder to convince Sirius, because despite his protests to the contrary, he still regarded Muggles as slightly inferior, an attitude of his mother’s that had rubbed off on him unknowingly.
Funny, how I’m the first one to really fall in love out of all the Marauders. I always thought Remus or Siri would meet their one and only before me. I really suck at Divination. He chuckled wryly at himself before transfiguring a button into a small keepsake box he could place the locket in.
Then he scribbled a note to Petunia asking her to meet him on Christmas Eve so he could give her a present. He signed it, always in my heart, James.
“Orpheus, my lad, come here. You’ve got a letter to deliver.” He sat up and the barn owl flew onto his arm and he attached the letter to his leg. “Remember to wait for a reply,” he told the owl, who gave him a soft hoot before flying out the window.
* * * * * *
15 Spinner’s End
Lily sipped her mug of chicken soup and looked over at Petunia, who was humming dreamily and gazing at a letter in her hands. “Tuney, why are you humming You Belong To Me? I know you love Carly Simon, but . . .is that what I think it is? A letter from James?”
Petunia nodded happily. “He wants to see me on Christmas Eve, he says he has a gift for me. I told him to come here and we could go to that new restaurant that just opened—Esmerelda’s down the street from the pharmacy. Oh, it’ll be so romantic! I hope he likes my gift.”
“He’ll love it, Tuney,” Lily reassured her. “He’s a Quidditch fanatic and this is the latest autobiography about the Magpie’s Seeker—what’s his name—?”
“Mark Terra,” Petunia replied immediately.
Lily’s eyebrows rose. “I do think you’re becoming one too, Tuney!”
“And if I am?”
“Oh, Merlin!” groaned her younger sister and she flopped back onto her pillows. Then she said sincerely, “I’m glad you’re happy, Tuney. Potter can be an arrogant arse sometimes, but he’s twenty times better than Dursley.”
“I know. Lily, when Sev kisses you, what do you feel?”
Lily blushed. “I feel . . .like I never want it to end. Like I’m connected to him in some deep way that I can’t ever describe. He makes me feel . . .wanted and loved. So very loved. And also . . .”
“Like you want to rip his clothes off and drag him off to bed?”
“Tuney! Good God!” Lily cried, pretending to be shocked. Then she giggled and smiled wickedly. “Exactly like that. Does James make you feel like that?”
“Yes, the handsome thing. And you know something, Lily? Vernon never made me feel like that. Not even the first time he kissed me, when I was seventeen.”
“You should have known then he wasn’t the right one.”
“Oh? And how was I supposed to figure that out? He was the first guy that ever kissed me. What did I have to compare it to?”
“Good point.” Lily conceded. She picked up a picture of Severus and herself, taken recently down at the ice cream shoppe by Ida James, the little old lady they had cured of her arthritis by a magical potion who had defended Severus during a fight and kept him from being arrested. “Nobody can kiss like Severus.”
“I’ll take your word for it,” Petunia laughed. “Though I feel the same about James. This is such a strange holiday season. I never expected it to be like this.” She hugged the letter to her chest. “Finish your soup, Lily. You need to keep up your strength.”
Lily made a face at her. “I’m full, and my throat hurts.”
Petunia sighed. Sometimes Lily was a difficult patient. “If you don’t finish all your lunch, then you don’t get dessert.”
“What is it?”
“Black and white pudding,” Petunia answered. “I made it.”
“Blackmailer,” Lily frowned, then forced herself to finish the small cup. Petunia’s black and white pudding, which was layers of chocolate and vanilla pudding with whipped cream and nuts on top, was to die for.
“I’m glad I’m rid of Vernon. The holidays were so stressful with him and that’s not how it should be,” Petunia remarked, smoothing the creases in James’ letter. Lily saw and smiled, she had done that too with all of Severus’ letters over the summer. “I mailed the ring he sent me for my birthday back.”
“Why? You could have sold it.”
“Humph! And have him sue me for thievery, the lying sack of crap? No thank you! Besides, I did have it appraised by Bennigans before I mailed it, just to see what I was giving up, and guess what?”
“It was paste? A fake?”
“No, but something just as insulting. It was a poor quality ruby, a flawed and cheap one. The bounder always did skimp on me, the cheap bastard. Severus, for all he has to scrimp and save, never did that to you. I guess it just goes to show you.”
“I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again. You’re better off without him, Tuney. In a way, that ring symbolized your relationship with him. Looked all right on the outside, but inside it was falling apart.”
“Yes, indeed. That’s why I mailed the ring back too. When I got it, at first I thought he was apologizing the only way he knew how, with an expensive gift. But after the appraisal I realized he wasn’t sincere and he was trying to buy my silence, like a cheap whore he’d misused.”
“I think you ought to press charges still.”
“Lily, it’s not worth the legal fees. Or the aggravation. I’m free of him now and that’s enough. I just hope some other poor girl doesn’t fall for him and end up his slave.”
“She’d have to be blind.”
“You’d be surprised how much money can sugar coat reality, little sister.” Petunia said wisely. Then she rose and removed the empty soup cup and headed back downstairs to get the pudding.
* * * * * *
James stood on the porch and rang the bell, hoping that Petunia hadn’t gotten sick, since Lily had been sick a few days ago with whatever bug Snape had. But the door opened to reveal Petunia all dressed up in a classy winter white knit dress that made her look like a snow elf, it had small crystals about the heart shaped bodice and more down by the hem, it fell to her ankles, where she wore charming white ankle boots with faux fur about the top and a small heel. Her hair seemed to glow and she had it done up in a fancy chignon and wore pearl drops in her ears.
“Hello, James!” she smiled and in her smile was pure elemental magic.
It made his blood heat. Her blue eyes seemed to catch and draw the light to them until they sparkled like sapphires.
“Hello, Tuney! Happy Christmas. I know it’s a little early, but . . .would you like your present now or later?” He stepped inside.
She looked up at him, for once his perpetually messy hair had been tamed down, until it fell in a natural wave across his forehead and he was wearing a red jumper with a collared shirt underneath and smart beige slacks and boots as well, only his were black and came up to his calves. “I probably should wait, but . . .may I open it now?” She reached beside her and took a brightly wrapped package up from the hall table. “Happy Christmas, James! I hope you like it. Lily helped me pick it out.” She handed him the present shyly.
“Thank you. I’m sure I’ll love it,” he said, praying it wasn’t something he already had. He hated returning things to stores. He produced the small carved rosewood box and handed it to her. It had a small red bow on the top. “Open yours first.”
“Oh! What a lovely box!” Petunia took the delicate box in her hands and examined it admiringly. It was very pretty, with an inlaid mother-of-pearl petunia on the lid. Smiling, she opened it, feeling little flutters of anticipation shoot through her. Inside the box was the locket. “Oh! It’s beautiful! No . . .it’s more than beautiful!” She gently opened the locket and saw a picture of James, grinning his familiar devil-may-care grin, in his Quidditch uniform. He winked at her. Then she read the motto. “My heart, I cherish you.” She stared at the locket for a full minute, trying unsuccessfully to blink away the tears that gathered in the corners of her eyes.
But he saw. “What’s the matter? Why are you crying?”
“it’s . . .I’m just overwhelmed.” She dabbed at her eyes with her fingertip.
“You hate it, right? It’s too antique looking. Not modern. Dammit, I knew I should have gotten something else.”
“No, no. I love it!” she hastened to reassure him. “I’m crying because I’m so happy that you would give me such a gorgeous piece, something so rare and beautiful. I can tell that it’s old.”
“Yes. It . . .was my great-grandmother’s. Over a hundred years old, I think.”
“Oh! Then it’s a family heirloom. James, I can’t . . .why would you . . .?”
He cupped her chin in his hands. “Yes, you can. I want you to be part of my family and this locket . . .is one way I can show it to my family. It has a few small charms. Shall I put it on you? You’ll see when the chain is about your neck.”
“Yes. Please do.”
He clasped the golden chain about her neck and she felt the necklace grow warm and then when she held the locket it began to beat, very slowly and steadily. “James! The locket—”
“—is beating in time to my heart,” he told her. “That’s the first charm. So long as my heart beats with love for you, so will the locket. And the other charm, open the locket and say Lumos.”
She did, and a cool beam of light burst from its center, flashing like a star.
“So you need never fear the darkness. Wherever you go, you will always have light.”
“James, I . . .don’t know what to say.”
“Don’t say anything, love.” He murmured. “Just kiss me.”
So she did, and she found that this kiss was even more electrifying and sweet than the previous one. She melted into his embrace as if he were the last refuge she would ever know and he held her close, until she could not tell where her heart began and his ended.
A soft cough sounded behind them and Tuney pulled away, startled.
“Lily! Good God, next time warn me!”
Lily smiled. “Looks like you were sort of . . .busy.”
Petunia blushed. “Lily Anne Evans, you mind your own business!”
“Why?” her sister asked outrageously. “It’s not a crime to kiss your boyfriend on Christmas, especially not after he’s just given you a beautiful pendant.” She came forward to admire it. “I have to say, Potter, you’ve got wonderful taste.”
“Uh . . .I’d say thanks, but my great-grandmother made this, not me. She was a jeweler.” James said. He began opening his own gift. He grinned when he saw the embossed cover of Mark Terra catching the Snitch. “Now how did you know I wanted to read this?”
“It’s about Quidditch and your favorite team and your favorite player,” Tuney responded. “Lily took me to Diagon Alley to the bookshop there to get it.”
“It’s perfect. Now I have something to read on the train back to school and at night when I can’t sleep because I keep dreaming about you.” He grinned lasciviously at her.
“James, you rogue!” she socked him playfully in the arm.
“What? It’s the truth. Do you dream of me?”
“Every night,” Lily put in before Petunia could answer.
Laughing, Lily ducked Petunia’s swat. “Guess I better be going. Mum needs help in the kitchen.”
“Get, you scamp!” Her sister cried, blushing an attractive rose. “Tell Mum I’ll be home after dinner!”
“Have a good time, and don’t steal too many kisses, Potter!” Lily called over her shoulder, giggling wickedly. “Happy Christmas!”
James blinked. “Is she always like that?”
“Now she is, since she’s fallen head over heels in love with Severus and all. Come on, James.”
He held out his arm to her and she threaded hers through it and rested her hand on his wrist. “Your wish is my command, my lady.” He shrank his book and tucked it into his pocket, then they walked out into the starlit night.
* * * * * *
15 Spinner’s End
Petunia wore the locket on Christmas Day and floated about in a kind of haze. The Evans women had been up since daybreak, preparing all the food for the Christmas feast and putting the finishing touches on the decorations inside the house. Fragrant boughs of fir and balsam and cedar were tied together with twine and red velvet bows and hung over the mantle and the entrances to each room. Mistletoe was hung in the entrance to the living room.
Petunia eyed it knowingly. “Guess you and Mum and Dad are going to be the lucky ones to steal a kiss under it this year,” she said to Lily as they swept and mopped the floor while Polly basted the turkey and made the mashed turnips.
Lily nodded. “I can’t wait. Just thinking about it makes me dizzy.” She pretended to faint with a hand over her eyes.
“Don’t do it, Lil. Because Sev isn’t here to catch you and I’m not picking you up off the floor,” Petunia teased.
Lily stuck her tongue out at her. “Spoilsport. Too bad James isn’t here for you to steal a kiss under the mistletoe.”
“Ah, well. Maybe I’ll steal a kiss from Sev.”
“Don’t you dare, Tuney!” Lily cried, pretending to be offended. “Nobody kisses my Sev but me!”
Petunia tilted her head. “Do I sense a wee bit of jealousy here?”
Lily tossed her head, her mane of auburn hair rippling down her back. “It’s not jealousy, just a fact.”
“I think you’re afraid he’ll like my kisses better,” Tuney teased.
“Ha! That’ll be the day. Besides, if James ever knew you’d kissed Severus, he’d have a fit.” Despite calling a truce, the two boys were not fond of each other, and the last thing Petunia wanted was to cause a row. Not after the wonderful Christmas Eve they had had.
“There! This looks great.” She surveyed the shining clean floor with satisfaction. “Now let’s go and help Mum with the rest of the dinner.”
“You go and do that,” Lily demurred. “I’m going to set the table.”
While Petunia went into the kitchen with Polly to help make the chestnut and cranberry stuffing and the small sausages wrapped in bacon, Lily went into the formal dining room, which they hardly ever used except on special occasions and began to set the table.
She placed a beautiful Irish lace tablecloth on the table inset with holly and angels blowing trumpets. Then she began to lay out the china and silverware. Polly had Wedgewood china in a lovely pattern with Christmas bells and ivy and the silverware was real silver with scalloped edges. Both a crystal water glass and a wine glass for the toast was set along the top, and each setting had a dinner plate, dessert plate, salad plate and a Christmas cracker.
This year the Christmas crackers had Father Christmas in his sleigh on them. They were an old British tradition and usually contained a sweet, a joke, a small prize and a paper crown. Lily smiled as she recalled how Sev, Petunia, and she used to look forward to opening their crackers and laughing at the silly things inside and sometimes trading each other, especially when Severus got something totally girly, like a hair clip and Lily had gotten a toy whistle.
Christmas tunes playing on the radio floated into the dining room as Lily pleated the napkins into roses, the only creative way she knew how to fold linen napkins, and set them next to everyone’s plate.
She stepped back to view the table and thought it looked wonderful, elegant and festive. Then she did a little dance step and peeked out the window.
And spied the first gentle drifting snowflakes. “Mum, Tuney! It’s snowing!” she yelled. “We’re going to have a white Christmas!”
* * * * * *
“Look, Sev, it’s snowing!” Eileen called gaily as she peered out the kitchen window. The Christmas pudding, her contribution to the celebration was steaming for an hour, she had made it nearly a week before and it was almost ready to be served. It smelled heavenly, and she had made Severus stir the batter as she made it, according to the old tradition, and make a wish for luck. The brandy sauce was also simmering on the stove.
Severus wandered into the kitchen, sniffing at the heady smell of the pudding and his mouth began to water. Eileen’s Christmas pudding was something to be savored and she had not had money to make it until this year, because Tobias had usually spent everything on booze. “Mmm, that smells wonderful! And I know it’s snowing, I was out helping Mr. Evans put lights on his shrubs.” He showed her the snowflakes slowly melting in his hair.
Eileen laughed, giddy as a little girl, and ruffled her tall son’s hair. “It’s been too long since we’ve had a white Christmas, Sev.” She continued to stir the brandy sauce.
“I know.” Too long since we’ve had any kind of Christmas that hasn’t included a drunken bum too, he thought but did not say aloud. “Mum, let me get you your present.”
“Severus, isn’t it a little early for us to exchange presents?”
“No.” He made a quick beckoning motion and Eileen’s present, wrapped in silver and green tissue, came soaring into his hand. “Happy Christmas, Mum.”
He watched with eager eyes as she opened it.
One hand went to her mouth. “Oh, Sev!”
She could feel the magic pulsing in it even before she put it on. “A pendant of protection. With my initials on it.” She admired how the light caught on the delicate filigree and the polished sterling silver. The E and S were done in glittering green enamel and she opened the oval shaped locket and saw a picture of herself holding a smiling four-year-old Severus.
“D’you like it, Mum?”
“Severus, you shouldn’t have. It’s so beautiful! Who worked the charms for you?” She placed the locket about her neck.
He smiled crookedly, she would know the protection charms were too advanced for him. “Mr. Black helped me. I wanted them to be strong. Just in case.”
“Ah, Sev! You are a good son,” she whispered, and then she drew him into a hug.
She held him for a long time, as she had not done since Tobias had been arrested, and he allowed himself to find comfort in her arms, as he had used to when he was small.
Until he sniffed and cried, “Uh, Mum, I think your sauce is burning.”
“Merlin’s purple pants!” she swore, and jerked away just in time to see the sauce start to crisp about the edges. “Ah . . .dungbeetles!” She waved her wand and the sauce was fixed and now its natural cream-colored shade.
“Cheating, Mum?” teased her son.
“Go find me the pudding plate, rascal!” she ordered, swatting him playfully with her dishcloth on the backside.
“Okay. But don’t I get a present?” he threw her a pleading look.
“Not if you don’t find my dish, Severus,” she threatened.
Laughing, he slipped away to the closet to search, returning with the special gold rimmed plate a few minutes later. “Here you go.”
Eileen slid the pudding onto the plate fresh out of the oven and wrapped it with some parchment paper. The brandy sauce went into a covered bowl. Then she summoned a green and red wrapped package and handed it to him.
“Happy Christmas, Sev!”
Severus tore off the paper. Inside was an entire set of Advanced Potions for Brilliant Practitioners, plus a new set of scales and a mortar and pestle and some new inks, quills, and a journal to record his experiments. Severus’s eyes grew wide. “Mum . . .this is . . .how did you ever afford this?”
“My boss gave me a bonus for Christmas,” Eileen admitted. “It was more than enough to splurge. And I had been saving a little out of my pay each week. I know how much you’ve been wanting these.”
“They’re great. Thanks so much.” He gently set the box down on the counter, it was worth its weight in Galleons, at least to a Potion Mistress or her son, and then he hugged and kissed his mother on the cheek. It was the best Christmas present he had ever gotten since Tobias had turned to the bottle and ruined all their holidays.
“You deserve it, Sev. Now, come, let’s walk over to the Evans’. It’s almost dinner time.”
Traditionally, Christmas dinner was eaten at midday or the early afternoon. It was around twelve-thirty when the two Snapes, bundled in their winter coats, hats, and gloves, rang the bell at the Evans residence.
Lily answered the door, beaming, “Happy Christmas, Sev and Eileen!”
She took their coats and winter wraps and hung them in the coat closet, then hugged and kissed her boyfriend and Eileen.
She was wearing a lovely emerald green top with a tiny silver dove embroidered on the right side and lovely white slacks and matching green shoes. Her hair was curled and piled high on her head, held in place by two pretty combs with green stones in them. She was also wearing very pretty peridot earrings and a matching necklace. “Mum and Dad’s gift to me,” she said, indicating the jewelry.
“They’re lovely, dear,” Eileen said. “Severus gave me jewelry too.” She showed Lily her locket.
Lily said it was gorgeous, and then Eileen went into the kitchen to greet Polly and Petunia and Henry, who was snitching gingersnaps off a platter and being scolded goodnaturedly by his wife about spoiling his dinner.
Meanwhile, Lily pulled Sev under the mistletoe for a brief but passionate kiss. He was wearing a soft fleece shirt that almost matched the color of her eyes and charcoal gray slacks, since Eileen said he couldn’t wear black on Christmas Day, and his white trainers since he didn’t own a pair of dress shoes.
He held her close and his mouth devoured her as if she were the last secret he would ever need to know, kissing her long and slow and deep. “Merlin, Lily, but I want you!”
“How much?” she asked, her eyes all big and sultry.
“This much,” and he dipped his head and kissed her again.
She drowned in the sweet taste of him, she was like putty in his hands, and when he touched her, her heart sang in an age old rhythm of joy and fulfillment. “I love you, Sev,” she muttered against his lips.
“I love you too,” he whispered back, breathing in her unique fresh scent. Her hair smelled like raspberries and some other fragrance he could not name, but which smelled terrific.
“Starting early, I see?” remarked Petunia, leaning against the doorjamb. She eyed Severus consideringly. “Looking good, Severus. Happy Christmas.”
“Same to you, Tuney,” he smiled at her, not at all embarrassed, for once. “Nice locket. Potter give you that?”
“Yes. And it’s magical.” She smirked at her sister, whose face was nearly as red as her hair. “Lily, you look like you enjoyed that kiss. How would you rate Severus on a scale of one to ten?”
“Excuse me?” Severus’s eyebrows went up.
“A definite ten,” Lily supplied. Then she looked at Severus. “How about you, Sev? How do I rate?”
“You’re off the scale, Lily,” he answered and put his arm about her.
“Nuh-uh, Snape! You have to rate her.” Petunia wagged a finger at him.
“Ten,” he answered.
“Come into the lounge, Mum has homemade punch for us, with a splash of Moscato.” Petunia led them into the den, where the adults were discussing amusing anecdotes about their children and handed both her sister and Severus a cup of sparkling fruit punch.
A huge evergreen tree stood in the corner, decorated with ribbons and silver beads and all manner of ornaments, some of them handmade by Lily and Tuney when they were small. Tiny lights twinkled all over it and several presents were beneath it.
A roaring fire crackled in the grate and the smell of pine and fresh cinnamon pervaded the air.
Severus greeted Polly and Henry and wished them a merry Christmas.
A plate of bacon-wrapped sausages and tiny sandwiches were upon a tray on the table.
“Eat up, kids. The turkey and stuffing will be awhile longer,” said Polly.
The three teenagers didn’t need to be told twice, they began to eat.
They were delicious, and twenty minutes later they were sitting down to dinner and eating the salad course, after they had opened up their crackers. After the salad came the main course, the turkey, roasted to crisp perfection, a bowl of steamed brussel sprouts and chestnuts in butter sauce, roasted potatoes, mashed turnips with gravy, and the delicious cranberry and chestnut stuffing with almonds sprinkled over it.
Mr. Evans led the toast. “Here’s to a wonderful and happy healthy holiday, may everyone know peace and good fortune and have a Happy New Year! Cheers!”
They all clinked glasses and drank the bubbly Moscato.
Everything was scrumptious, and they all ate till they could hold no more. Severus and Eileen couldn’t remember the last time they had eaten such a feast, and there was still the dessert to come. Plus, Polly insisted they take home a good deal of the leftovers, which meant Eileen wouldn’t have to worry about supper for a few nights.
Severus was glad to see his mother laughing and smiling, he had forgotten that she was quite pretty when she smiled and wished she would do it more often. Then again, being married to Tobias hadn’t left her with much to smile about, but now she had a second chance at a better life. Severus wished that he could tell her about his duties as a spy for the Order, but feared she would forbid him to do something so dangerous and he was already sworn.
Eileen cleared the plates and washed the dishes with magic, reducing the time the girls and Polly had to spend in the kitchen. Then it was time for the pudding. The sorceress caused the lights to go out with a brief wave of a hand, then she lit the brandy soaked pudding on fire so that it glowed like a star.
It floated towards her on its plate and everyone clapped and cheered.
The pudding settled down in the middle of the table, the fire went out, and the lights came back on. The brandy sauce was also floated to the table, along with the homemade Christmas cookies Polly and the girls had made.
“Oh, Eileen, your pudding looks divine!” Polly praised.
She carefully cut the pudding with a knife. It was chock full of raisins, cranberries, sultanas, nuts, and pineapple pieces, coconut, and candied fruit. Then everyone poured their own brandy sauce over it and ate.
Lily loved Eileen’s pudding, she had missed it for the last several Christmases. Polly had her own version, and it was good, but there was no comparison with Eileen’s. It was, as her mother had said, divine. She ate her piece in slow bites, savoring each one.
Next to her, Sev was doing the same and opposite her, so was Tuney. Petunia rarely ate sweet desserts, but she too loved the Christmas pudding.
“Are you sure you don’t use magic to make this, Eileen?” Polly asked, smiling at her neighbor and friend. “Because I’ve tried my best, but I can never make mine come out like yours.”
Eileen shook her head. “No, Poll. There’s no magic in this, just a very old recipe and a lot of time and effort. I got the recipe from Tobias’s grandmother before she died, and it’s one of the few good things his family ever gave me.”
The Snapes had not been very welcoming to Eileen, regarding her as an odd interloper who had charmed their handsome son and after they had moved to High Bentham, had cut all ties with them. Eileen’s parents had died from a rare strain of wizard pox before Severus was born and her brother, Algernon, had taken all the family fortune and left Eileen with almost nothing. Severus had never met him either and never wanted to.
And so the Evans had become Eileen’s surrogate family as well, and she had always been grateful for their care of her son and tried her best to return the favor with the two Evans sisters.
The adults all had coffee and the kids hot cocoa with marshmallows.
Polly played the piano afterwards and they all sang carols, and finally it was time to open the presents.
Eileen showed Polly and Henry her locket from Severus, and Polly declared he was a sweet boy, which made him want to crawl under a table. But Polly loved her robe from Severus and the slippers from Lily and Tuney had gotten her an assortment of bath creams and salts that smelled like lily of the valley and attar of roses.
Henry received a copy of Quidditch Through the Ages from Severus, a silk tie from Tuney, and a box of his favorite hard candy from Lily.
Eileen received a box of premium chocolate from Petunia, for she knew of her sweet tooth, and Lily gave her a pair of filigree earrings that matched Sev’s locket.
Petunia loved her volumes of the wizarding romance from both Severus and Lily, and she in turn gifted them with a set of earrings for her sister, silver and gold hearts, and for Severus, a crocheted scarf in the softest mohair wool in Slytherin green and silver.
“You made this, didn’t you?” Severus exclaimed.
Petunia nodded. “I’m the only one who learned how to crochet in my family. My Aunt Beatrice taught me.”
“Thank you, Tuney. Not even Lucius Malfoy has a scarf this fine.” Severus said, then could have smacked himself. Why did he have to mention Lucius at Christmas. He was doing his best to forget Lucius existed for the length of the holiday.
“And this is for you, Lily,” Severus said, picking up the small bag with the perfume he had made inside. “Happy Christmas, little oracle!” he whispered and gave it to her.
Lily carefully opened the bag, wondering what Severus had gotten for her. It was too big for a jewelry item and too small for something like a piece of clothing. When she withdrew the beautiful cut crystal bottle shaped like a heart, whose facets sparkled in the lights of the tree like a thousand diamonds lit on fire, she could do nothing but stare. Then she gently uncorked the bottle and rubbed the scent on her wrist and sniffed delicately.
She felt as if she had been transported back to a summer’s day. One walking through a garden with Severus by her side. The unique combination of fruit and florals was perfect and she could not get enough of it. There were hints of lemon and honeysuckle, jasmine, and lily. And they all blended to create a harmonious scent that was unique and enticing. Inside was a card in Sev’s handwriting, that read I’ve called it Beloved Oracle, and it’s how I remember you. Hope you like it.
“Like it? Sev, I love it!” And she moved over and hugged and kissed him. It was a quick kiss nothing like the one they had shared under the mistletoe, but he could feel her longing and delight in it and it made his heart skip a beat.
“Your turn. I hope you don’t think it’s silly.” She handed him a small black box.
He opened it and stared down at a pair of rings, sterling silver, one set with a small beryl chip and the other a tiny diamond. Delicate black scrollwork was etched into the one with the diamond, which was clearly a woman’s ring. The beryl stone was a bit larger and meant for a man’s hand. He drew that one out of the box and looked inside and saw an eternity knot and within it their initials LE and SS.
“They’re . . .uh . . .betrothal rings. I know it’s an old custom and nobody practices it anymore really, but I thought it could be a way for us to show how we feel without being obvious.” She bit her lip nervously.
Severus picked up the woman’s ring and took Lily’s hand in his. “Lily Anne Evans, I pledge you my heart,” he whispered , looking into her beautiful emerald eyes.
They sparkled and glowed like emeralds lit with an inner fire.
She smiled and took the other ring and placed it upon his finger. “Severus Tobias Snape, I accept your pledge and give you my heart in return.”
His dark eyes glittered with a joy so profound there were no words to express it.
They remained that way, gazing into each other’s eyes, until Henry said, “Go and kiss her, Sev. I’ll allow it.”
Severus smiled slowly. Then he took his beloved oracle in his arms and kissed her with all the passion and fire she ignited in him. It was no tame kiss, but a true expression of all that he loved about her and how she made him feel. And that irresistible chemistry flared between them, pouring off them in a tangible wave that could be felt by everyone in the room.
And the betrothal stones in the rings began to glow softly, affirming their love, each for the other, as a true thing.
Eileen dabbed at her eyes with a handkerchief, for she realized what it meant that the rings were glowing. My son has found his soulmate at last.
Polly too had tears in her eyes and she thought, They look so great together. My little girl is all grown-up.
Henry smiled, recalling how he and Polly had kissed that way long ago. Take care of my girl, Sev. Then the overprotective father reared its head. Or else I will personally kick your arse. But he said none of that. He didn’t want to ruin that perfect magic moment.
Petunia gazed on the two with a mixture of joy and a kind of envy. They fit like a hand and a glove. Will I ever know what that’s like? Oh, James, please be the one for me. Then she closed her eyes and imagined James’ arms about her, kissing her breathless.
When she opened them, Sev and Lily had stepped apart, flushing a little at their very public display of affection.
But they all agreed it had been one of the best Christmas they could remember, full of love and happiness and the comfort of good food, friends, and family.
* * * * * *
Severus discovered a present from Reg waiting under his tree along with a letter when he finally arrived home late that night, along with Reg’s owl, Brighteyes. Severus stroked the beautiful owl and fed him several treats before asking him to take Reg’s present to him. Severus had gotten Regulus a rare Invisibility Stone, which would make the holder invisible for two hours at a time. He figured it would help Regulus in his spying duties and it was a neat gift.
Regulus had sent him a variety of rare potion ingredients, including phoenix tears, unicorn hair, basilisk venom, and the scales of hippocampus. Along with the case of ingredients was a letter. Severus took it and the case into his room to read it in private.
I hope you’re having a happy holiday with Lily and her family. I met your mum in Diagon Alley in the Apothecary and found out she was buying you a cool present and decided you could use some new ingredients to go with it.
My holiday has been . . .for lack of a better word . . .intolerable. It didn’t start out that way. It started out with me trying to get along with Sirius like I’d promised, even though he was acting like the world’s biggest jerk, sulking like a baby because my parents punished him for that night at the Shrieking Shack. Honestly, what did he expect them to do—pat him on the head? Merlin’s bloody arse! I mean, Dad will put up with a lot, but he draws the line at his sons almost killing someone or hexing someone for the fun of it. He was lucky that Mother didn’t skin him alive for behaving like a delinquent.
But of course Siri could only look at how they were treating him unfairly and moped and sulked till I wanted to kick his arse. He made everyone in the house, even Kreacher, miserable. But the final straw was when he told my parents he wasn’t spending Christmas dinner or even Christmas Day with them. He wanted to go over to James Potter’s, said Potter had invited him and the rest of his friends.
Dad said no, that he didn’t want Sirius hanging around any of them, they were bad influences and he was supposed to spend Christmas with his family. And Siri blew up, and said that he couldn’t stand being trapped in this house with any of us, that Christmas would suck because we were all boring stiffs and full of ourselves and he was going to James’s no matter what Dad said.
Dad told him he’d take away his broom for the rest of the year and Sirius just laughed and said he’d like to see him try, then he grabbed some Floo powder and went over to Potter Manor before Dad could stop him.
Mum was so upset, she spent the whole morning in her room, and I thought Dad was going to self-combust, he was so furious. I can’t believe Sirius would treat them like that. Sometimes I think he was switched at birth.
But maybe it was a good thing that Siri wasn’ t there, because the Malfoys showed up for dessert and if Sirius had been forced to make small talk with them, he might have said something insulting and embarrassed the hell out of my mother. I wasn’t too thrilled either, seeing Lucius and Abraxus and Casseopia, but I behaved like a Black and was polite to my guests. I was just glad Lucius didn’t start talking about anything to do with the Iron Masks. But even he has some tact and brains.
I don’t know what’s going to happen when Siri returns home. My mother was threatening to disown him last time I heard her talking with my dad and I think Dad was angry enough to agree with her right then. One thing I do know is that it’s not going to be pretty, at all.
He’s really out of control and impossible. He even accused Dad of being a sympathizer of You-Know-Who. Dad slapped him a good one, and that’s one of the few times I ever recall him raising a hand to either of us. That was when Sirius left.
He’d better be prepared to do some major apologizing when he does come home. Sorry for rambling on about my stupid brother and our family drama. But I just had to tell someone and you’re the only one who’d understand.
Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, Sev!
See you after the first!
Severus shook his head. Poor Regulus! He knew exactly what it felt like to have a holiday from hell. Maybe he could have Reg over for New Year’s. He yawned and felt his eyes beginning to close. He tucked the letter into the box along with the ingredients and then fell asleep, smiling as he recalled how beautiful Lily had looked and how she had felt in his arms.
* * * * * *
Meanwhile, in a place far away from High Bentham, another wizard was gazing out into the night sky at the snow falling rapidly, but unlike others, he was not celebrating the joys of the season. To him Christmas was a day like any other, of no great importance, save for the fact that the irritating Muggles were no longer walking about singing those ridiculous songs about love and good cheer and all that other nauseating stuff. Of course, they had provided him with a few hours of entertainment when he had hexed them with several different experimental curses.
But other than that, the Christmas season was not something he had ever looked forward to. He had learned long ago that there was no such thing as Father Christmas or good cheer for one such as he, nor did he need such foolish sentiments. Being good was so overrated.
He smiled a chilling smile and thought about how he would have to increase his recruitment policy and meet with some of the night hags and giants and werewolves again to see what alliances could be made. It was so hard to find allies willing to stick out a long campaign and this one was barely begun. He was not yet ready to reveal his hand, there was much work to be done before he put his plans into action and carried the war to the fools in the Ministry and showed them who was really the most powerful wizard in Britain. Careful planning was the key, Lord Voldemort thought, and he tapped his long fingernails against the windowpane, watching the blizzard outside.
Soon my time will come. And then the world will tremble as my army of darkness advances and drives the light away for good and all. Soon those puling white wizards will call me master and at last I shall get the respect I deserve. Someday soon.
Then Voldemort turned away from the window, his blood-red robes rustling, a malevolent smile upon his cadaverous face, as he returned to sipping his brandy by the fire and dreaming of the conquest yet to come.
Well, what did you think?
How would you rate Severus kissing on a scale of 1-10? Just curious! :)
Next: Petunia is invited to Potter Manor for the weekend by James, but all does not go as expected.
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