Out of the Shadows
Chapter 7: The Giving of Gifts
Writter: fall shadow
Summary: Harry has been raised to follow a path of darkness, but when he meets Hermione things start to change and he finds out everything he has been led to believe is a lie. Now, with a strengthened resolve, he must do whatever it takes to stop the one he once considered his master.
It was only a minute before the young witch seemed to notice his absence, her eyes searching the room, but when they passed Lupin, he smiled and stood, excusing himself for a moment. Hermione watched Remus Lupin glance briefly into the kitchen before disappearing down the hallway, continuing to Harry’s current room. Peering in, he saw Harry standing at the window, his hands on the sill, gazing at his reflection. The older wizard walked over to Harry laid a hand on his shoulder; he didn’t miss the slight flinch Harry gave at the contact, doubting it was from surprise given that he was reflected in the window now, too.
“I have an offer, if you want to get out of here for a bit,” Lupin suggested to Harry’s reflection. Harry waited for him to continue, and seeing that he had Harry’s attention, he did; “I thought you might want to go out shopping. You could get some things for Christmas tomorrow and maybe some new clothes.” Harry looked at him uncertainly, and Lupin added, “Unless you want to keep wearing Hermione’s clothes,” at this, he raised an eyebrow and nodded to Harry’s shirt.
Harry’s eyes lowered to his (well really, htp) shirt reflected in the window. He could tell Lupin was trying to lighten his mood, and getting out of the house did seem like an appealing idea. Growing up, he certainly hadn’t gotten out of the house much- the Dursleys hated bringing him anywhere, and the Malfoys had only let him outside occasionally on their protected property to fly or do chores or practice the more destructive spells. Nervous excitement partially pushed aside his melancholy mood as he considered something as simple as Christmas shopping.
“Alright, sure,” Harry answered, finally turning around. Then suddenly, a thought struck him, “But, I don’t have any money.”
“Sure you do, Harry,” Lupin told him in a gentle tone. “Your parents were pretty well-off, and they left almost everything to you.”
“I’ve never been to Gringott’s.”
“Well, I wouldn’t recommend it right now, since we are in hiding. Gringott’s itself should be safe, but Diagon Alley isn’t.”
“Then-” Harry started, but Lupin cut him off.
“I will pick up the tab,” immediately seeing signs of protest, he was quick to add, “for now. And you can pay me back later, in better times.” He extended his hand and Harry hesitantly took it, feeling quite a bit better than he had a few minutes ago.
Harry pulled on a jacket Lupin had lent him as he followed him down the hallway toward the Grangers, who were now talking softer.
“I know it’s late, but I’m going to take Harry out for a quick shopping trip.” Lupin told him. Hermione’s reply was almost instantaneous.
“Is that safe?”
“I can’t promise anything, but it should be safe enough. I have to go out once and a while myself, and I’ve never seen anything suspicious in this area.”
“Alright, just be careful,” she told them, still looking unsure.
“So… where to first?” Harry asked, completely out of his element. He could count the number of times he had been shopping on one hand. The Dursleys had usually either taken turns shopping or left him with Mrs. Figg. The Malfoys had never taken him anywhere, but Snape brought him to get a wand before dumping him at the Malfoys. They hadn’t agreed with his choice to take him anywhere in public, but Snape ensured that he had not been seen by anyone and countered that Harry needed a wand that obeyed him if they didn’t want him blowing up the house.
“How about in here,” Lupin suggested, motioning to a shop on their left. “You should be able to find some clothes you like.”
Harry quickly found that he had no idea what he liked. After looking around aimlessly for some minutes, Lupin asked Harry what he might like (something comfortable and casual- pretty plain… and maybe something athletic) and steered him in the right direction.
“Don’t worry,” Lupin told him, “I’m not great shopping for clothes either. Since I got married, I find I don’t need to worry about it as much, though- my wife buys most of my clothes, and she knows what I like.”
“You’re married?” Harry asked immediately, his eyes quickly drawn from the jeans in front of him to Lupin’s face.
“Yes,” Lupin answered as a small, perplexing smile that looked both happy and sad crept onto his face. “We were married less than a year ago. Despite my best efforts, she finally got me to tie the knot.”
Harry gave him a questioning look, and the man back-tracked, seeming embarrassed.
“Not like that. It’s not that I didn’t want to marry her; I’m just… not the easier person to be with, especially in these dangerous times.”
Not wanting to pry, but not being able to stop himself from asking something at least, he settled for what he considered a safe question.
“Wouldn’t you be with her?” Harry asked, “Around Christmas, I mean?”
“Yes, I would, if I could. But it is too dangerous to travel back and forth between the two safe houses often,” Lupin told him quietly. “But this isn’t the time or place for this, Harry.”
Getting a sense that the conversation was over, Harry returned his attention to the clothes he was supposed to be buying as best he could.
Lupin refused to let Harry look at the price tags as long as he didn’t go overboard, which he seriously doubted would be a problem, since Harry was fretting over getting more than one three-pack of socks. Eventually, Harry had a whole new- though modestly sized- wardrobe: few pairs of jeans, dark gray sweatpants similar to the ones of Hermione’s that he was currently wearing, a pair of scarlet and gold plaid pajama pants that Lupin had suggested because, as he had told Harry, those were the colors of his parents’ House at Hogwarts, plain tees, a jacket and a sweatshirt, and various other items.
Harry felt as though they had already spent far too much, and adamantly protested going anywhere else.
“Harry, please, let me do this. I know you have been through a lot, and I wish I could have found you and helped you sooner. Your parents were like family to me. I want you to be able to give the others something, even if it is something small; it’s the best part of Christmas.”
“But I’d have no idea what to get them,” Harry told him honestly.
“Well, I can help you out for what to get Hermione, but I don’t know her parents much better than you do. Judging by her story, we met them on the same night. You can just get something universal. That’s what I am going to do.”
Agreeing, they went off in search of small gifts for the Grangers, minding their time and keeping an eye out for trouble.
Less than two hours, a few stores and several bags after the departed, the pair returned to Lupin’s, weary from their excursion. During their outing, the Grangers had retired to their guest rooms, leaving the house calm and quiet. There was a small Christmas tree in the living room that hadn’t been there when they left and Harry had a hunch Hermione’s spellwork was responsible for it. Surprisingly, the tree even had a few presents tucked underneath.
Together they took the bags of clothes to Harry’s room, leaving the presents in the living room. Noticing a strip of light across the hall floor coming from Hermione’s bedroom, Lupin paused to inform her that they were back safely. After that, they proceeded to wrap the presents with paper they had gotten from one of the stores, which consisted mostly of Lupin teaching Harry how to wrap presents, since he never really had. Harry thought back to gifts he had received at the Malfoys; they had always been clothes or related to what he was studying, and had never been wrapped. He didn’t mind the books and supplies so much, since he did like learning magic, but the clothes usually didn’t suit him. Harry found that after shopping and wrapping with Lupin, he was rather excited for their improvised Christmas.
For the first time Harry could remember, he had trouble sleeping for a good reason.
The next morning, Harry found himself being enthusiastically shaken awake by an excited Hermione.
“Come on, Harry, wake up. It’s Christmas!”
Harry blinked a few times, trying to fight off still feeling drowsy.
“What time is it?” Harry asked, his voice slightly hoarse from sleep.
“About six o’clock,” Hermione answered. “Everyone else is up already.”
“Six? Why in the name of Merlin’s old-” Harry started, but Hermione cut him off.
“Oh, stop whining. I always get up early on Christmas.”
Harry finally gave up, and pushed himself into a sitting position, considering Hermione as he rubbed his eyes. She was wearing a plain green sweater and pajama pants that were Christmas-colored, with white and red socks.
“Just give me a minute to change, ok?” Then he added, “And shower.”
“Sure,” Hermione answered, and seeing that he was more awake, told him, “Happy Christmas,” before turning to leave.
Harry wished her the same and then quickly found his scarlet and gold pajama pants in a shopping bag. With it, he pulled out a new pair of boxers and socks, and a t-shirt. He took everything to the bathroom and showered quickly, some of his excitement from the night before returning now that the water washed away the rest of his dreariness. When he was finished, he walked out to the living room where a warm bowl of oatmeal was waiting for him, along with four smiling faces.
“Finally,” Hermione said, exasperated, though Harry could tell she was at least partially joking.
“If we had known you were going to take a while, we could’ve slept in a bit longer,” Mr. Granger said with a smile, following his daughter’s example and teasing Harry.
“Sorry, I didn’t realize- you waited for me?” Harry was genuinely surprised. He figured they would’ve been done opening the presents by the time he got out.
“Of course we did,” Hermione said in a matter-of-fact tone that suggested it was obvious that they would have. It wasn’t obvious to Harry. No one had waited for him to open presents before.
“Well, let’s get started then,” Lupin suggested.
Harry looked at his presents so far; Hermione had given him one of her books, called s:/ww/.fhanhpi:cha.htaocte and a small vial of Felix Felicis, which she told him she had won in potions the previous year and taken some of, but had never found a use for the rest. Her parents had given him a picture frame they had taken from their house before they left, ensuring him that the picture that had been in it was safely sharing another frame for the time being.
They seemed to like what Harry got them, too- a few Christmas decorations which were immediately added to Lupin’s living room for this year. Hermione looked like she wanted to hug him after opening his present to her, which was a small, nice-looking pouch that he had charmed to be much larger on the inside. He had tossed some useful muggle items like a first aid kit and a flashlight (just in case they were without their wands or needed light and the use of their wands for other things at the same time), with a few new muggle books that he thought looked interesting and hoped she didn’t already have.
Eventually, it was Lupin’s turn to give them gifts, and he started off with a disclaimer.
“I can’t really take credit for these,” he told them, indicating a few of the remaining presents, “some of them are other things Dumbledore left to you. Once I heard Hermione’s idea about having a small Christmas celebration despite the circumstances, I thought I would save some of what he left you for today.”
He handed Harry and Hermione each a small box; Harry’s was square-shaped, and Hermione’s was rectangular. They looked at each other before carefully opening their gifts.
“It’s a snitch!” Harry exclaimed, having gotten his unwrapped first. “This is brilliant!” As he watched the snitch dart around, trying to follow it with his eyes, it was the happiest Hermione had seen him.
“There’s a note with it, too,” Hermione told him, pointing to a slip of paper that had fallen out of the box.
Harry picked it up, interested. It read:
Did you know that a snitch can recongnize the one who first caught it? It is a curious thing called “flesh memory” which was invented to settle disputes when the seekers fought over who got the snitch first in Quidditch matches. You mind find this interesting. Hopefully you were the first to get ahold of it.
The note wasn’t signed, but Harry knew it was from Dumbledore.
“I’ve got to catch it!” Harry said excitedly, jumping up to follow the snitch down the hallway.
The other occupants of the room shared a slightly bewildered, but amused look. Then, Hermione finished unwrapping her package.
“It looks like a cigarette lighter,” Hermione’s mother said, sounding surprised and a bit disapproving.
Examining it, Hermione gasped and brightened after a few moments.
“Is this a Deluminator?” she asked Lupin interestedly.
“Yes, it certainly looks like it. Dumbledore made it himself. It’s one of a kind.”
There were a few bangs and crashes from down the hall, but Harry shouted that he was alright. They laughed at his antics, returning their focus to Hermione’s present.
Lupin handed her the note, “He left a note with this one as well.”
She quickly took the note, and read:
This is left to you in that hope that once you are left in darkness, it can lead you to the light that may save us all.
Puzzled, Hermione read the note several times over and asked Lupin if he knew anything about what Dumbledore’s note was referring to. He told her that he didn’t- the only use he knew it to have was putting out lights, and then returning the light after.
“What’s that?” Harry asked, returning to the living room, gently placing the snitch into his pants pocket after it had folded its golden wings.
Hermione explained the Deluminator to Harry, and let him read the note, which made no more sense to him than it did to her. The Grangers were sitting and watching quietly, intrigued but even more confused than everyone else.
“Dumbledore also left you the sword of Gryffindor, Harry, but the Ministry determined that it was property of Hogwarts and not Dumbledore’s to give.”
“Why would he leave that to me?” Truthfully, Harry wasn’t sure why Dumbledore had left him a snitch, or Hermione a children’s book, either, but a sword that was Hogwarts’ property made no sense to him at all.
No one offered an answer- Lupin seemed unsure and Hermione looked deep in thought.
“I’m not sure,” Lupin told him eventually, “but I have something else for you, too. This one is from me.” Lupin handed Harry a soft present that was loosely wrapped.
Harry opened it and pulled out a cool, silvery sort of material that felt almost like he was holding liquid.
“Is that an invisibility cloak? They are supposed to be quite rare!” Hermione said suddenly, sounding interested and impressed. “I read about them in-” Hermione went on to quote some book, but Harry didn’t catch it as he excitedly pulled the cloak out and wrapped it around himself.
The Grangers all gasped and Harry shouted, “Whoa! I’m invisible? I’m invisible!” Harry laughed; it had been a while since he’d truly been amazed by magic. He had heard of becoming invisible before, and knew a spell for it, but being able to just put on a cloak and turn invisible was awesome.
“That is amazing!” Mr. Granger exclaimed, looking at where Harry had been just seconds before.
“It truly is,” Mrs. Granger said in wonder.
“It was your father’s cloak. He lent it to Dumbledore before he died. And Dumbledore left it to me since I was a close friend of James. It is time it was returned to you,” Lupin told him.
Harry pulled off the cloak and looked at his parents’ old friend.
“Thank you,” he told Lupin sincerely.
“You’re welcome, Harry.”
The rest of Christmas was spent relaxing and trying not to dwell on the harsh reality beyond their hideout. It was nice to get it off their minds, even if just for one day. Of course, they didn’t forget, but they all did their best to try to enjoy the day.
Harry spent a while idly playing with the snitch he had received. Hermione baked cookies with her mom and read. Overall, it was a peaceful day, and Christmas dinner was better than their usual food, too.
In the evening, Harry was lounging in his guest room, when he heard someone approach his door. He looked up and waited, pocketing the picture of the witches and wizards who fought Voldemort the first time around. After a few moments, he heard a soft knock. Taking a breath, Harry tried to push thoughts of his parents and his childhood from his mind.