That First Christmas

by Lara Wilson

It was the last day before Christmas holidays and Harry sat at the window looking out as the snow fell in big flakes that covered the courtyard in a white blanket.

In Surrey what snow they got melted quickly or turned black from cars and feet, but here it was deep and plentiful, and he'd have nearly a month to enjoy it with only a handful of students. Hermione would be leaving on the train the next day, but Ron was staying and the two of them were already planning the snow forts they'd build and the wars that would ensue against Ron's brothers.

But first they had to exchange gifts with Hermione and attend the farewell feast.

As the sun began to set over the ice-covered lake, Harry reached beneath his bed for the small box he'd ordered from a shop in Diagon Alley and tucked it into the pocket of his robe before heading down to the common room. Hermione and Ron sat in front of the fire, playing exploding snap, Hermione obviously winning.

"Save me, Harry," Ron called on spying his friend. "She's a demon."

Hermione snorted and placed her last card, causing Ron's hand to snap and spew across the coffee table. "Where have you been, Harry? Want to play the next hand?"

"No thanks," he replied with a smile. "We only have a few minutes before the feast begins. I thought we could exchange gifts with you since you're leaving."

A flush of pleasure covered Hermione's cheeks as she nodded and put away the cards. "I wish I wasn't going now, but my parents expect me home. Let me fetch my gifts." As she dashed off, Harry sat down in the chair next to the sofa where Ron sat looking worriedly at the small, newspaper wrapped bundle he'd pulled from his robe.

"She's going to hate this."

"I'm sure she won't," Harry said encouragingly. "It's the thought that counts. I've never given gifts, so I'm nervous, too."

"It's easy to choose something for a bloke, but girls are...girls."

Harry grinned in agreement.

Hermione returned bearing two gaily wrapped packages. Handing one to each boy, she sat back down on the sofa and accepted the gifts they handed her.

"Er, you go first, Hermione," Ron suggested, with Harry nodding.

Smiling, Hermione picked up Ron's present first and carefully unwrapped the paper. Inside sat a small pink geode, the crystals glinting in the firelight.

"It's nothing much, I know..."

"It's gorgeous, Ron." Hermione smiled in delight and rubbed her thumb across the quartz. "Rose quartz, it's such a wonderful soothing stone. I'll use it to stay calm during exams."

Ron beamed, glad he hadn't chucked the rock out after finding it on holiday on Dartmoor the summer before.

Setting the geode aside, Hermione unwrapped Harry's gift of a box of fairy dust. "Just what I need for my potion kit, Harry, thank you," she exclaimed at the rare gift. "You two are the best friends a girl could have."

Both boys blushed at her praise, then turned to their own gifts. Hermione had given Harry a anti-charm charm for his broomstick, to keep it from getting bespelled while in flight, and Ron a new cauldron because Professor Snape always made fun of his hand-me-down.

As they chatting happily about their gifts, Percy strode towards them. "Come on you three, you'll miss the beginning of the feast and the crackers."

Jumping up, they trailed after him, eager to see what kind of spread Hogwarts put on for Christmas. Halloween would be hard to beat.


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