Harry woke up, rubbed his eyes and remembered what day it was. Christmas! With all of his friends gone for the holiday, Harry had spent the past few days living in Severus's quarters. He jumped out of bed, pulled on his robes and grabbed the package wrapped in glittering blue paper and tied with a gold ribbon. Harry entered the hall and knocked on Severus's door.
"Good morning, Harry," Severus said from the end of the hall.Harry turned, smiling. "Merry Christmas! I keep forgetting how early you get up."
Severus inclined his head. "There was a present to wrap."
Harry handed him the present that he had in his hand. "For once, I'm ahead of you."
"Thank you," Severus said, accepting the large bundle. "Why don't you head to the sitting room and I will have the elves send up some hot chocolate."
"Alright," Harry agreed, moving to the other room.
He had insisted that they get a Christmas tree for Severus's quarters. Much to Severus's dismay, Harry had decorated it in red and gold.
"I still say the tree would have looked better green and silver," Severus said, entering the room. "It is already green."
"You like it and you know it," Harry said. "Now open your present."
Harry shrugged. "Alright."
"Mine is the one wrapped in gold," Severus said, gesturing to the pile beneath the tree.
Harry located it and picked it up. He tore off the shiny paper and opened the black velvet box inside. He found a beautifully wrought golden snitch inside, wings folded tight to its curved body. Harry lifted it out of the box.
"It's beautiful," he said.
"It is an inkwell, refillable," Severus said. "The top is on a hinge."
Harry opened it and peered inside. "I love this. I'll use it all the time. Thank you, Severus," he said with a wide smile.
"Your turn," Harry reminded him.
Severus untied the ribbon slowly and removed the paper with care. Once unwrapped, he held up the garment inside. His brows raised in surprise.
"Do you like it?" Harry asked eagerly.
Severus studied the cloak for a moment. All in all, it wasn't distasteful, or at least that's what Harry thought. The woolen outside was a dark navy blue with silver stitching along the bottom. It was lined with a light blue silk and had silver dragon fastenings. If that was where it stopped, it would have been a rather nice cloak. However, the designer had, for whatever reason, added a giant celtic dragon right in the middle of the lining. It was silver as well and looked fierce.
Severus tore his gaze away and looked at Harry. Harry was unsure of what he would say. Perhaps he should have gone with a book or quill.
"It would have been better in black," Severus said simply.
Harry grinned. "So you like it?"
"I definitely would not have chosen it for myself, but since you are intent on adding color to my wardrobe, it is not overly abhorrent," he replied.
"Sounds like a 'yes' to me," Harry said. "Sorry about the dragon but it was the most subtle thing they had."
Severus raised a brow. "Where did you get this then?""Gladrag-," Harry cut himself off, realizing that was in Hogsmeade.
"Gladrags?" Severus asked. "That explains a lot. Though do tell how you got it without going to Hogsmeade."
Oh crap. "I sent in an owl order," Harry answered, thinking fast.
"Gladrags does not do owl orders," Severus replied smartly.
"You would know, why?" Harry asked, trying to distract him.
"It is a rather large sign in their window. Or did you not notice it when you were illegally traversing Hogsmeade?" Severus asked critically.
"I wasn't!" Harry lied. "Ron got it for me."
"Then you lied to me about the mail order? Why wouldn't you have told me that in the first place?" Severus asked.
Harry was trapped. He sighed. "Fine. I snuck out to Hogsmeade," he admitted.
"I am very disappointed in you, Harry," Severus said.
"Yeah, Hermione told me you would be," Harry muttered.
"Smart girl," Severus said. "How did you get there? The cloak I assume?"
For a moment, Harry was torn between telling the truth in attempt to redeem himself and covering up for the twins. Surely if Severus found out about the map, he would take it off him. Harry had more plans for the map.
"Yeah," Harry said. "I used the patronus charm to get past the dementors."
Severus nodded, accepting the lie. He sighed. "Harry, why is it so hard for you to keep yourself safe? All you have to do is listen to the people who are trying to protect you."
Harry looked down. "It's hard for me to do that."
"Rule-breaking is in your blood, I suppose," Severus grumbled.
"If you wanted a safe son that you didn't have to worry about, you definitely shouldn't have picked me," Harry pointed out. "I've literally been attracting trouble since I was born."
Severus looked at him and inexplicably, the corner of his mouth drew up into a very small uncharacteristic smile. "I suppose you are right. Though we do have to resolve this."
They sat in silence for a moment as Severus thought.
"What if I allow you to go to Hogsmeade provided that I accompany you?" Severus asked.
Harry thought for a moment. He nodded and smiled slyly. "Promise you won't embarrass me in front of my friends?" he teased.
"Are you saying that my efforts have not succeeded thus far?" Severus asked with mock surprise.
Harry laughed. "Sure, that sounds good. You're good at backing people into corners, you know. You should've been a lawyer or something."
"Wrong side of the law for a Slytherin," Severus scoffed. "Now finish opening your presents."
Harry did so, receiving various odds and ends from Hermione, Ron, Draco and the Weasleys. He got a large bar of chocolate from Professor Lupin. There were even a few presents for Severus; one from McGonagall and the other from Dumbledore. As Harry cleaned up the wrappings, he noticed one that he missed leaning against the wall, partially obscured by the tree.
"What's this?" Harry asked, heart speeding up as he easily recognized the shape.
"I honestly have no idea," Severus said, brow furrowed.
Harry brought it to the center of the room. It was wrapped in plain brown paper and tied with twine. Harry pulled off the wrapping and, though it was obvious beforehand, confirmed that it was a broom. He picked it up gently, reverently.
"It's a Firebolt," Harry breathed. "They just came out. They're rumored to be the fastest brooms on the market. Did you get this?"
"I wish I could take credit but unfortunately, I cannot. Is there a note?" Severus asked.
Harry rummaged through the wrappings. "No." Harry wondered who it could possibly be from. McGonagall had gotten him his first, so she certainly would not get him another. And she would have signed it. Professor Lupin was the next to come to mind but, judging from the state of his robes, there would be no way he could afford such an expensive broom. "I can't think of anyone."
"Neither can I," Severus said. "You should not ride it."
"What?" Harry asked in shock. "Not ride it? How could I possibly not ride it?"
"It could be cursed or hexed. It could be from Sirius Black. You do not know," Severus said. "Allow me and some of the other teachers to run some tests on it. If it's clear, you can have it back."
"But the next Quidditch game is in only a few weeks!" Harry exclaimed.
"It will probably be back by then," Snape said.
"But I won't have any time to practice on it!" Harry said in alarm. "Please don't take it."
"Harry, it is for your own safety!" Severus said.
"Everything is for my own safety!" Harry exploded. "Everything that makes this school fun is being taken away for my own safety!"
"Then let's hope Sirius Black is caught soon," Severus replied, unrelenting.
Harry frowned. "Can I just look at it for a while?" he asked. "Before you take it away?"
"Of course," Severus replied.
For a while, Harry just looked at the broom, eyes wide with longing. All the rest of his presents were pushed to the side, forgotten, including Severus's. Gaze unmoving from the Firebolt in front of him, Harry did not notice the spark of disconcerting jealousy that sprung into Severus's eyes.
For the final few days of break, Harry spent most of his time either wandering around Hogwarts with the map or hanging out in Severus's chambers. After one day of exploring various passageways that had previously gone unnoticed, Harry laid on his stomach on his bed, Maurader's Map spread before him. He was planning how he was going to spend the final day of break. Harry could see Severus's dot enter the chamber. He ignored it and traced a passageway that went from a portrait on the third floor to one on the fifth with his finger.
A knock sounded on his door.
"Mischief managed," he said quickly as the door opened.
"Harry-" Severus began. "Oh, sorry, am I interrupting something?"
"Uh, no," Harry said rolling on his back and sitting up. "Come on in."
Severus stepped inside and looked at the parchment spread on the bed. "What is that?" he asked.
"Um, just a spare piece of parchment," Harry said. "I was going to uh, write something."
"Were you?" Severus asked rhetorically. "Without a quill? I do not mean to pry, but I have seen my fair share of odd things amongst student possessions and I would like to add the knowledge of this to my mental collection, shall we say."
Harry was wary but he didn't think that Severus would get the phrase right.
"If you can figure out the secret, you can look at it," Harry said.
Severus strode forward and put his wand to the parchment. "I, Severus Snape, command you to reveal your secret!"
Harry watched with latent amusement as words formed that were not what Severus was expecting.
Mr. Moony presents his compliments to Professor Snape and requests that he keep his abnormally large nose out of other people's business.
Mr. Wormtail would like to second that and note his amazement that he thinks he can command a piece of parchment to do anything.
Mr. Prongs would like to say that Professor Snape is an ugly git who needs something stronger than shampoo for his slimy hair.
Mr. Padfoot would like to express his astonishment that an idiot like that ever became a professor.
Severus stared at it for a moment. "I dearly hope this is a Zonko's product."
Harry nodded, stifling a laugh to cover the lie. "You like it?"
"I cannot say that I do, but now I know that it exists," he said. Severus looked at Harry. "I will not even ask what you are planning on doing with it."
Harry smiled. "Good."
"Originally, I came to tell you that it has been requested that you join the teachers for dinner in thirty minutes," Severus said.
"Alright," Harry said easily. "Do any of them know who sent the Firebolt?"
"No," Severus replied. "Though I have requested they work quickly."
"Thank you," Harry said. "I'll be out in a few minutes."
When he had closed the door behind him, Harry folded up the map and let out a breath. He was glad that he had managed to keep the secret of the map but was unsure of whether or not it was the right thing to do after all.
Severus was grading papers, quill scratching harshly across the paper, when a knock sounded at the door. Unhappy because of the horrible attempts at essays that he was being forced to read, he snapped, "Enter."
The door opened hesitantly. Severus continued to grade as the student took his time coming warily into the office.
Without looking up, he said, "What do you want?"
"Um," the Slytherins said. "I just have something that I thought you might want to know."
Severus looked up at this. "Do tell, Mr. Zabini."
"Well, during the Hogsmeade trip the other day, Granger, Weasley and Malfoy were acting funny so I followed them. Uh, when I did, I saw Potter there. I know he isn't allowed at Hogsmeade, so I thought I would tell you."
"You thought you would get him in trouble, did you?" Severus asked critically, one eyebrow raised.
"No!" Blaise said hurriedly. "I just thought-"
"You were looking out for his own good, I suppose?" Severus asked sarcastically. "You didn't want anyone to have an opportunity to hurt him. How considerate."
Blaise's face turned bright red.
"In fact, Mr. Zabini, I commend you for your out of character actions. Rather like that of a Hufflepuff," Severus said insultingly.
Blaise was silent.
"Alright, Mr. Zabini, let us drop the act. We both know that you came for the sole purpose of seeing me angry at Mr. Potter for disobeying me. In truth, he and I have worked it out between us and are on good terms. In the future, I would thank you to stay out of business that does not concern you," Severus said. "You may go."
"Yes, sir," Blaise said. He hurried out. Severus noticed that he did not apologize. One good characteristic of his Slytherin. Not showing weakness.
Blaise scowled as he stormed into the common room. It was empty, as had become usual over the past week of break. If only he had been allowed to go home for Christmas, he wouldn't have gotten the bright idea to tell on Potter. Too bad his idiot mother was off in the Alps with her husband. He had expected Snape to explode and take his anger out on Potter and it would have been wonderful to watch. Now he just looked like a fool. At least Potter wasn't there to see him humiliated. Hopefully Snape wouldn't tell him either. Blaise buried his face in his pillow, never wanting to see his Head of House again. One spot of consolation was that in only a few weeks Hagrid would face the court and, Blaise hoped, retribution as well.