The morning of the Hogsmeade trip I awoke at my usual time. I was showered and ready within thirty minutes, also part of my typical morning. However, when I returned to my bed there was something unexpected waiting for me.
It was a box. Nothing fancy, just a shoe box sitting in the middle of my bed. None of the other girls were awake and there’s no way I had missed it when I woke up. I sat down on my bed and picked it up. Nothing was written on the top or sides. Shrugging I took off the lid. Inside there was a letter and a smaller wooden box. This box was intricately carved with Japanese runes along the sides and a detailed design on the top. I set it aside and picked up the letter which had my name written on it.
I believe this box will contain exactly what you are looking for. Do not worry about the expense. I assure you I did not spend even close to what you believe these cost. You may think of them as a gift in return for the many nights I keep you away from home. Kuniye and I would like to remind you that gifts are not necessary even though you will buy them today. I am especially pleased with mine, very few people give me gifts as unique as yours. I will also inform you that Kuniye has a sweet tooth, even if she denies it.
There is an old expression, ‘If you give a man a fish, he will eat for a day. If you teach a man to fish he will eat for a lifetime.’ You will understand the meaning soon.
Lastly I ask you to be careful, the world is changing faster than most people realize. The choices we make today will combine with the ones we make tomorrow and then merge with the next days and so on until our world is vastly different from the one we knew yesterday. Friendship is a strong anchor for these tides of change. Appreciate what you have for tomorrow there is no guarantee that it will still exist. You are stronger than you know, I do not believe you will be blinded by the darkness that affects so many others. Learn to trust your instincts, not solely your mind but your heart. Life is not always easy, but I have faith in you. Far more than you could ever imagine.
P.S. You may leave our gifts on your bedside table, they will be delivered.
P.P.S. Your second assumption will be correct.
I sat there, eyes drifting over the note. Tsukino had never written me before. Any messages I needed were passed along through Kuniye. Why not this time? My first thought was that she didn’t want Kuniye to know. ‘Your second assumption will be correct
.’ Ok then, why else would she send a letter? It obviously wasn’t so I would remember. I looked over the letter again, this time focusing on the gold symbol next to Tsukino’s signature. It stood out the most since the rest of the letter was written in black ink. It was the same symbol that was on the estate’s gates. There were several other places it appeared too, on a few of the doors that I’d never been through, a metal sculpture in the center of the garden, on the floor in an intricate seal in the main house. Kuniye told me this was Tsukino’s symbol, that it identified her and the ones who served her to the others
. I’d never been told who the others
Would this symbol prove that Tsukino had written the letter? That wouldn’t really matter unless I showed someone. In fact I’d been asked to keep these trainings a secret, even from Snape. ‘Your second assumption will be correct
.’ This was my second assumption I reasoned, that should mean I’m right. Alright, so I had to keep this letter to show someone. I hoped I would be given a clear signal when that someone
Well that dealt with that mystery, now for the rest. First there was the box. I set the letter aside and picked up the small wooden box. It was rather impressive with the intricate carvings and silver fastenings. I opened it and saw it was divided into six smaller slots. Each slot contained something different. Potion ingredients, ones usually located in Asia.
I looked closer at some of the petals in one of the slots. They were Phoenix Orchid petals I realized. These were rare-extremely, only grow in a couple of places in the world, rare. One petal alone would cost at least twenty-five galleons, there were at least ten in here. I closed the box quickly, stunned that I was probably holding a small fortune in my hands. ‘I did not spend even close to what you believe these cost.
’ I sincerely hoped that was true.
It occurred to me that these would be the perfect gift for Snape. Until he asked how I got them. I couldn’t exactly say ‘oh you know, here and there.’ Didn’t he mention something about trust? If I really pushed for it, would he just accept them without assuming I stole them or robbed several people?
It was half past six and Hermione had begun stirring. I placed the letter and box of potion ingredients back in the original box and stood to store it in my trunk. I went through the letter in my head again.
The hint for Kuniye’s gift was obvious. The whole teaching someone to fish thing, no idea. I suppose it was more about teaching someone a skill. Also I was apparently going to find a unique gift for Tsukino. Great
, I thought sarcastically. That wasn’t nearly as enlightening as I would have wished. Bugger it, I could worry more about it later.
‘You are stronger than you know
.’ This was the third person that had told me that…well the Sorting Hat wasn’t really a person, but still, it had started this. ‘The world is changing faster than most people realize
.’ That was a bit eerie. Choices and friendship, those were two very vague topics. You could have life altering choices or just choosing if you wanted bacon or sausage for breakfast. There was a big range in there, I’m leaning more towards the life altering option though. And friendship, friendship with who? Everyone? Or someone in particular?
First Christmas shopping, then decoding the philosophical jargon of a rather vague Seer.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Chocolate is a universal gift. No clue what to get someone? Grab a box of chocolate and you’re all set. Yes it’s very predictable, but I mean it’s chocolate, no reasonable person dislikes a box of chocolate. I filled two large boxes with an assortment of different items from Honeydukes, one for Kuniye and one for Victor. I grabbed a couple bars thinking it would be a good start for Dimitri’s gift too. Also a chocolate frog for myself, because you know, why not? I’m allowed to treat myself even if it drives me into the poor house.
I wasn’t sure where to go next, but passing a shop that had a fancy Christmas display in their window I figured I should get Narcissa a card. Usually I made her gift using transfiguration and charms. She had all the money in the world to buy what she wanted so I generally made her jewelry, something unique but classy enough that she could at least approve of it.
I picked up one of the more expensive cards and a nice box to send my gift in. Heading to the cashier I spotted something out of the corner of my eye. It was a calendar, one with a different page for each day of the year. The theme-wolves. Every page had a different image of a wolf. Some were howling at the moon, others running through the woods or just playing. Truthfully it was pretty lame. Which is exactly why I picked it up for Dimitri.
I had already decided on Hermione’s gift so all that was left were the twins, Tsukino, and something else for Dimitri. I began searching different shops for any inspiration. The fifth shop I entered had a display of wood carvings. One block had Hogwarts carved into it, another was a circular carving of Hogsmeade with little windows carved out and a light in the middle shining through. It was…well pretty amazing. I wondered how long it would take to create.
There were books on creating similar wood carvings with the display and I picked one up, flipping through. Dimitri had mentioned loving the architecture in St. Petersburg before. I could probably figure out how to carve that. Time was the issue though. Holidays started tomorrow and with virtually no social life, I was confident I could finish it in time.
Stepping back into the street I realized I had saved the most difficult gifts for last. I decided to start with Tsukino. It was supposed to be unique, something most people wouldn’t give her. Well let’s start with gifts you would
give a Seer. Books obviously, Seer or Divination things were probably popular choices too. Chocolate and candy aren’t exactly unique. What else would the regular person give her? Trinkets most likely. That narrowed it down quite a bit.
What else did I know about her? She was young, under thirty. She’d spent her life learning Divination, Astronomy, proper etiquette and polite manners. Everything needed for the life of a dignified Seer. It didn’t sound particularly fun. Huh, fun
. Maybe something fun for her.
Zonko’s immediately came to mind. Surely no one had ever given Tsukino something like that. They would deem it improper for her. Maybe something fun was just what she needed. I headed in the direction of Zonko’s wondering what exactly she would like.
I was browsing the shelves when I heard people approach me. “Shopping for our Christmas gift?” I turned around to see Fred and George there.
“I hardly think I need to give you more supplies to torment Filch with.”
“Ah, so buying yourself something?” Fred asked grinning.
“Deciding to risk detention?” said George.
“Not quite,” I said turning back to the shelves. “Gift for a friend.”
“Who?” one of the twins asked quickly.
“Er…one I made last year,” I answered vaguely. “I’m not sure what she would like though.”
“Yes, she,” I said glancing back at them. “Any advice? I’m sure you two know this place better than anyone.”
“It is our expertise.”
“Something along the lines of a dung bomb or something with a bit more class?”
“Definitely more classy.” Is there even such a thing as classy pranking supplies? The Weasley twins would probably be the right people to know if there was.
“Well let’s start over here.”
For the next hour Fred and George showed me items around the store. Sometimes they would point out ways an item could be better and more versatile or mention items they would have designed. I’d been unsure about a few things but they walked me through their uses and by the time I was paying I was sure I’d gotten a unique gift box of items.
“Are you staying at Hogwarts for break?” Fred asked as we exited Zonko’s.
“Yes, much preferable. And hoping Hermione and I can finish our Runes project.”
“Always with the studying and school work,” said George as he shook his head.
I rolled my eyes. “What about you two? I noticed your brother was staying.”
“We’re staying too. And Ginny. All avoiding Percy really. All this Head Boy business is making him unbearable.” I smiled wondering if the twins had ever found Percy tolerable.
“What’s he planning to do after Hogwarts?” I asked.
“Enter the Ministry.”
“Start off small.”
“Slowly claw his way up.”
“Until he becomes Minister of Magic.”
“And declares fun illegal.”
“And laughing, don’t forget laughing, Fred.”
“True, true, how could I forget that?”
“It’s very alarming that I can actually see that happening,” I said laughing. “What about you guys? What are you going to do after your days of wrecking havoc on Hogwarts are over?” I asked curiously.
“Joke shop,” they responded instantly, in unison. This made me laugh more.
“Never going to let Filch forget about you, are you?”
“You like the idea?” Fred asked seriously.
“Of course,” I said honestly. “It’s perfect for you.”
“Mum isn’t fond of the idea.”
I shrugged my shoulders. “It’s your life. Wait till you make your first hundred galleons and I’m sure she’ll change her mind. Plus, you should be doing something you love. You both know all about pranks and jokes. You’ll do great. Any special ideas for a product yet?”
“Er…” they shared a look.
“Well we’re trying to make edible stuff, but its proving a bit more difficult than we imagined.”
“Food and potions tend not to blend together easily.”
“Or in a non revolting way.” I thought of the different cookbooks and potion books I’d read.
“Also we’re working with different potion ingredients.”
“Experimenting quite a bit.”
“Snape doesn’t really cover what different items do
“So we’re finding out for ourselves.”
“It’s a long process.” ‘Teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime
.’ An idea suddenly popped into my head. It was perfect.
“I have to go,” I told them.
“I’ll see you later,” I said already planning the perfect gift.