Pairing: Minerva McGonagall/Severus Snape
Prompt: "a quiet Christmas"
Word Count: ~870
Contains (Highlight to view): *A bit of drinking, a bit of snark.*
Disclaimer: Harry Potter characters are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No profit is being made, and no copyright infringement is intended.
Notes: Thanks to B for the beta and thanks to the patient and gracious mods. mini_fest was one of the first fests I ever wrote for, back in 2009, and I'm so glad it's still giving us holiday cheer. Happy Winter Celebration (whatever it is) to you all!
Summary: Severus Snape doesn't do Christmas. And he certainly doesn't do romance.
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Severus Snape doesn't do Christmas. And he certainly doesn't do romance.
Yet every Christmas night, he finds himself sitting beside Minerva McGonagall's fire, light glinting off the cut crystal glass in his hand. Gin and tonic with lemon is his usual. Minerva sits opposite him, her glass filled with single-malt firewhisky.
The smell of peat mingles not unpleasantly with the scent of juniper, and both mix well with the ginger biscuits and almond cake that rest on a low table within easy reach.
He and Minerva sit and read, saying little; both of them welcome the chance to lose themselves in books that they never have time to read during the drudgery of term.
But this is not "doing Christmas." This is just co-workers spending a few relaxing moments together after the ghastly experience that is the Hogwarts Christmas dinner. After two hours of forced "cheer" in the Great Hall, enduring the ignominy of wearing a ridiculous bonnet from the silly crackers that Albus insists on pulling, one requires some peace and quiet.
Minerva's rooms are much warmer than Severus's dungeon quarters, which don't take well to heating charms. That's why he sits with her instead of in solitude. It's not about Christmas.
Her rooms are also more soothing than his own. He was surprised the first time he entered them. When she had first invited him for Christmas drinks, he'd almost made an acerbic comment about how no doubt her décor would be a depressing riot of Gryffindor red and gold where he'd need to fear being smothered by tartan hangings. He's certainly expected twee knickknacks and doilies and whatever other detritus single old women surrounded themselves with.
Luckily, he'd curbed his tongue, because he turned out to be quite, quite wrong. He's glad he resisted the temptation to sneer -- not because of any scruples against insulting one's few friends, of course. Not at all. But only because Minerva would never have let him hear the end of it.
He pauses in his reading to glance around. True, she does have a tartan-covered wing chair, but the colors are subdued, fitting well with her overall scheme of soft blues and greens. No knickknacks could have found shelf-room among all her books, and there isn't a doily in sight. It's restful.
Minerva notices his movement and looks up from her own book. "Another G and T?" she asks.
"Soon," he replies. "But sadly, there's not enough gin in Scotland to make up for the horrors of Christmas in a boarding school. With crackers."
She snorts and looks pointedly at the laden cake plates and the crackling fire and the green-and-silver-wrapped package that sits under her glowing Christmas tree.
"Oh, yes, one can see just how terribly you're tortured."
Severus snorts in return and takes a ginger biscuit.
This is not "doing Christmas." This is simply sustenance.
He finishes his drink and moves to her sideboard to make another. He and Minerva don't stand on ceremony after all these years; he's free to help himself.
Instead of returning to his chair, he goes to sit beside her on the sofa, sliding an arm around her shoulders. She closes her book and leans into him.
Traditionally on Christmas Day, they take each other to bed. But it's certainly not about romance. It's about mutual convenience. And comfort, of which there is little enough in a world ruled by madmen. Convenience and a bit of comfort. That's all. Not romance.
He kisses her neck.
After a few minutes, she murmurs, "Accio present," and the green-and-silver box floats over to them. "For you," she says simply. No greetings-of-the-season or whatever; she knows he doesn't do Christmas.
A quick flick of his wand brings a shrunken red-and-gold package from his robe's inner pocket. Cancelling the shrinking charm, he hands the resulting heavy rectangle to Minerva with a brusque "Here. It's a book."
He gives her a book every year, as she does to him. No sentimental presents, because Severus doesn't do romance. He's not even really doing Christmas; books are necessities, not gifts.
He's lucky that Minerva doesn't do romance, either, although there's no denying that she does do Christmas. But she's made clear to him that she's not looking for emotional commitment or sexual exclusivity. Just convenience. Comfort.
They open their presents and say automatic "thank yous" and sit silently for a few minutes, enjoying the tactile pleasure of their new books and slowly making them familiar.
Eventually they nod off, arms around each other, and when Severus opens his eyes again, the fire has burned low in the grate. Minerva is warm against him, and he kisses her awake. Without speaking, they move to her bedroom.
She lights the candles with silent magic; they illuminate the mantel, fragrant with evergreen boughs, and the inviting bed.
Severus pulls Minerva to him and buries his hands in her loosened hair.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Half an hour later, they lie side-by-side under the pillowy duvet.
"Happy Christmas, Severus," Minerva says, her lips quirking.
He doesn't answer; he doesn't do Christmas.
Turning on his side, he spoons behind her and wraps an arm around her waist.
For warmth. It's a cold night.
And he doesn't do romance.