Pairing/Characters: Severus Snape, Harry Potter
Word count: ~1350 words
Disclaimer: Harry Potter belongs to J. K. Rowling. There is no financial gain made from this. This is for entertainment purposes only.
Summary/Prompt: Christmas time is a time for celebrations. Everyone knew that Severus Snape never accepted invitations to Christmas celebrations. Most people would agree that this was for the best of all involved. Most people, that is, except for Harry Potter.
Inspired by snarry100's prompt# 608: Solstice, and a continuation of the previous post Invitations.
A/N: This was written for the dear pekeleke, who always manages to make me write something for her - without doing anything. ;) I wish you all the best for your birthday and a happy New Year, my friend! ^^
(This story has no beta. If you spot something that doesn't sound right, please contact me.)
Their celebration of the Solstice had turned out to be a quiet yet acceptable affair. Harry had obviously never followed the old rites, but Severus had been pleasantly surprised by the effort the younger man had put into his preparations. They had burned a Yule log and Severus had advised Harry that he shouldn’t let the log burn completely and to keep a part of the wood.
“You use it next year to kindle the new log, always keeping a bit of the previous one for the next year,” Severus explained. Then he gifted Harry a little wooden box, decorated with carvings of holly. Harry’s eyes had lit up like the embers that danced in the fireplace.
“Thank you Severus,” Harry answered. “I’ll use your gift to store the wood for next year.”
“That would be a good use for it. Keep the box in the centre of your house - it will enhance any wards you have in place. It’s also supposed to keep Pixies away, as well as damage from lightning, hail or fire. It is also supposed to ward off toothache,” Severus smirked.
Harry huffed out an involuntary laugh. “Toothache? Are you serious?” At Severus’ glower he quickly raised his hands in surrender. “Yes, I know, you are not in the habit of making jokes.” The fact that he felt at ease to make jokes about Severus only showed him how close they had come.
They shared a nice meal that Harry had prepared all day: soup, shepherd’s pie, and cake. Severus told Harry about the one year his mother had been able to procure a piece of boar for the Solstice and how, in the years that she couldn’t, she had tried to make a sweet cake in the shape of a pig instead. He did not tell Harry about his father getting angry at his wife for wasting money on expensive meat or ingredients and the yelling that had followed. He did tell him about the sacrifice, though.
“My mother has never done it herself, but I suppose I had read it in one of her books. I remember being very small when I first sneaked out of the house in the middle of the night. I had nicked an apple from the stash in the cellar. It was cold, but I hadn’t dressed properly.” Severus shook the head at his own foolishness, but continued his story with a note of fondness in his voice.
“I cannot even guess at my age then… So, I was outside in the garden at the back of the house. There was a small tree that grew in one corner of the yard. At that time I thought it was huge. I dug a bit at its roots and put the apple there. There had been a poem or an incantation that one was supposed to say when making the offering. I couldn’t recite it, so I invented something on my own.” Severus took a sip of his hot chocolate, leaning back into the cosy wingback chair.
“You were always very creative,” Harry added thoughtfully into the silence. “The spells you created, your potions. It’s a pity we saw so little of your work. I still remember the Duelling Club in second year. You were- The way you moved, so controlled and purposeful.” He looked at Severus and blushed. “I only realised later that I was impressed by you.”
Severus harrumphed and concentrated on the hot cup in his hand, inhaling the soothing scents of chocolate and cinnamon. He hated to admit it, but he basked in this late acknowledgement. He was a Slytherin, after all.
“I’m sorry, Severus, I interrupted your story. You wanted to tell me about the ritual.”
“Did I, now,” Severus asked silkily and when Harry grinned at him he added a smirk of his own. “It was indeed a ritual of sacrifice in the old times. A shedding of blood, an offering to appease old gods and wild spirits. But, as I was only a small boy with a shrivelled apple, there were no solemn vows or -”
“Silly incantations?” Harry injected cheekily.
“Indeed,” Severus accepted the interruption with ease. He knew his brash Gryffindor by now, and was well aware that Harry did it out of eagerness, not out of spite or to insult him. “As I was trying to say, there was no spell or incantation.” He took another sip of the heavenly chocolate - he did not want it to go cold, as that would have been a shame. It didn’t have anything to do with his almost innate urge to tease Harry. He watched his companion squirm a few moments before sending a small wink at him, ignoring the good-hearted grumbling that got him in response, and continuing his recount.
“It was probably accidental magic that made it happen in the end,” he paused shortly. “I most likely said something about the dark night, having heard my mother call it that. She had meant the darkest night, of course, the longest night of the year. But I didn’t understand that yet. I cannot recall having asked for a higher presence, for anything at all. But, when I finished, the apple started to glow and sparkle-”
Harry had leant forward, his eyes wide and clearly as immersed in Severus’ story as he had never been in all the years he had tried to teach the boy. Maybe he should have told them stories of adventures and fairies to get them to listen…
“Severus, can we do that? Tonight is the darkest night, I mean maybe we should offer a … something,” Harry asked eagerly, eyes sparkling.
“We could,” Severus agreed.
Harry smiled, and before he could jump up in pursuit of a suitable offering Severus halted him with a gesture of his hand. “Patience. We have time, Harry. Drink your cocoa before it gets cold. An offering, as I have already mentioned, once would have been a gift of blood.” They both expressed their reluctance to follow this kind of rite wordlessly.
“Maybe a bit of food, like your offering, would be better.”
“I agree. It is my belief that it does not matter as much as to what is offered. It is rather the intent, as so often, that is of importance.”
Harry thoughtfully drained his cup. “So I don’t have to offer something of personal value?”
“No Harry. This is supposed to be a rite of blessing, not a sacrifice. We could feed the deer if you want to offer food.”
“Yes,” Harry exclaimed enthusiastically. “Let’s do that! Did you finish your hot chocolate? I have some hay in the shed. And we could add a few apples, too. There’s also a basket full of nuts, although I’m not sure the deer would eat those. They’re for the squirrels, you know? I think I have a stash of moss left from decorating the house somewhere-” He wandered off, leaving his guest sitting in front of the crackling fire.
Severus counted and waited. At eight Harry returned in the door, one boot unlaced, the other missing altogether, red and yellow scarf haphazardly thrown over one shoulder, grinning sheepishly and blushing once more. Not that Severus particularly took note of the fact. At least he wouldn’t admit to it.
“Heh, I guess I got a bit carried off.”
“A bit,” Severus said and smiled. He would also never admit (’Not quite true, Severus,’ said a voice in his head and he accepted it with an unworried shrug) to the feelings of indulgence and happiness Harry evoked in him. He had seen too much, was too old and too honest with himself to squash the other, deeper emotions he felt.
Harry returned to his side but remained standing. His face was still a bit red, his eyes still sparkled, the smile was still there, although it had softened to something that warmed Severus more than the fire or the spiced hot chocolate.
Severus got up and reached out to tuck the garish scarf securely around Harry’s neck. Then he took Harry’s hand in his. If Harry was startled, he didn’t show it. “Let’s go feed the deer, Harry.”
Harry’s fingers tightened their grip on his hand.