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Catherine Smith for Percival Adlard Jr..
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This would have been very disturbing anyway but then Pet's eye popped out and started rolling along the bottom of the boat. Great. Maybe she would be so fortunate as to have a kraken surface nearby and pluck her off the ship with one of its tentacles and kindly drown her. Petra Sleptova in Land, Ho!
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Need a Little Christmas
December 25th, 1872 - Hogwarts Library

Gwendolyn Wittmore had sent Maggie her Christmas gifts with a howler attached. To not have boarded the train alongside her siblings was an inexcusable offense, and regardless of what tests she had to study for she would be certain to never repeat this mistake. The fifteen year old had expected it - was waiting for it ever since the train headed back to London without her - but the guilt had slammed into her all the same. She knew she should've gone home with her siblings, but with the OWLs just a few short months away Maggie couldn't afford to sacrifice weeks of studying.

She had to come back to Hogwarts in September. She simply had to.

Most of the Gryffindor tower was vacant. The only others she knew to have remained either didn't have families to return to or were just more content to remain at the castle. The halls that were typically overflowing with students and chatter were eerily quiet. Maggie understood now why most of her classmates went home for Christmas, for an empty castle caused chills to run down her spine.

What she hadn't expected was for Percy to volunteer to remain at the castle with her. His family, much like hers, couldn't have been too pleased with his decision. What of his younger sisters? Surely they missed their brother on this Christmas morning? Maggie wasn't aware of what traditions his family had, but she definitely was missing the warm hot cocoa she drank as they opened up presents. Oh, and Gwen's extravagant morning spread. Sometimes, Maggie thought her mother even outcooked the elves at Hogwarts on Christmas morning. She rubbed a hand against her temple. Merlin. She should've gone home.

The words of her Care of Magical Creatures textbook were blurring together as she sat in the dusty library. Though she knew it was Christmas morning, the holiday had lost all its magical feel. She wasn't home, she had no warm mug in her hands, and this bloody textbook wasn't becoming any easier to understand. Where was Percy? He was the one who understood the intricacies of the different beasts. With a frustrated groan, Maggie shut the book and leaned her head down upon it. Maybe she would be lucky and the knowledge would simply melt into her brain if she stayed like this long enough.

@Percival Adlard Jr.
Mother was upset with him, Percy was well aware. He’d written her before term ended and explained that his friend needed his help studying over break. She hadn’t said no, but it was clear she had expected him to change his mind. Father didn’t mind in the least, likely was happy that Percy had stayed at school, less to worry about with the foolish boy, Percy suspected. Cat, however, had been absolutely furious with Percy. She of course had known the reason he stayed behind, that it wasn’t just some friend, she had all but said that. She’d written to tell him that Lissy was cross with him as well and that he deserved absolutely nothing for Christmas this year for abandoning them. But as soon as Maggie had said she was staying behind Percy knew he would be too. He simply couldn’t leave her all alone at Christmas time, and honestly, it seemed she needed him more than his sisters did this year.

When Christmas morning arrived he was only half surprised to find that Maggie did not attend breakfast. She had spent the last several days in the library attempting to studying, and in Percy’s honest opinion, needed a break - especially because it was a holiday. So Percy followed his suspicion and made his way to the library. Passing shelves and shelves of books Percy finally found Maggie at her preferred table, head down on her book as if in complete defeat.

That’s hardly celebrating the holiday.” Percy commented, flopping into a chair across from Maggie, with a teasing grin. “Did your textbook forget to get you a present?” He joked.

Wonderful set is a work of art from Lynn!
Maggie hadn't meant to skip breakfast again. The trend that began in October continued only because she had finally begun to understood the coursework last night and wanted an early start this morning. Though, if one were paying attention to her excuses throughout the past three months they'd find that she was always just beginning to comprehend the material. Some mornings she thought to use the excuse that she was still full from dinner (another meal she sometimes skipped in lieu of more time in the library) or that she wanted to claim her favorite table before another got to it. However, with it being the school break her excuses were limited.

Percy's entrance into the library echoed through the empty stacks. Still, Maggie made no move to lift her head until he was seated across from her. "It gave me the gift of confusion." She returned. It was exceedingly kind of him to stay with her, though she was sure she was no joy to be around right now. "Merry Christmas, Percy." If only he could share his brain on this subject, then Maggie wouldn't have to spend months holed up in the library. "Did your parents send you your gifts?"
"Well that doesn't sound like a very good gift." Percy teased, hating to see her like this. The Maggie he knew was normally so much more…. Vibrant than this.

Judging by the look of the Gryffindor, Percy wasn't sure it was indeed merry, "You don't look very merry." Percy told her truthfully, as he might one of his sisters. "But I have any idea to fix that." He promised her. He would promise her anything if it got her to smile again.

"They did." Percy shrugged, gifts were a nice part of the season but he rather liked giving them and seeing people's reactions more than getting them himself. "Did your's?" He doubted they wouldn't have, but if she was asking perhaps that meant her's hadn't.

Wonderful set is a work of art from Lynn!
"Oh, it's not." She laughed, because if she didn't laugh she would cry. It wasn't her fault that neither of her elder brothers took their education seriously. They had saw the castle as an unfair obligation. Their minds didn't explode with wonder as they passed through the halls. They didn't think of the school as a treasure, and somehow Maggie had to bear the consequences of their actions.

Maggie felt guilty now for not having made the effort to attend breakfast with him. Percy had stayed behind for her, forfeiting a happy holiday with his family. The least she could've done for him was make an effort. Bloody hell. Was there not one thing she could do right this year? "What's your idea?"

She could tell him of the howler later when they exchanged their own gifts (or, at least, she gave him the one she'd purchased). For now, Maggie was happy to nod that they had indeed sent her gifts and wait for his idea.
"Well it wouldn't be much of a surprise if I told you." Percy quipped back, reaching across the table he gently shut the book in front of her. "But I can tell you it does not include your dear friend there." He nodded at the book sardonically.

He might love Care of Magical Creatures but he knew Maggie did not, knew that more often then not she struggled with the course. Sometimes she wondered why she had taken it in the first place, and often he blamed himself for it. He had pressed her, rather lightheartedly, but she had ended up taking it. Now he felt that her struggle in it was really to be laid at himself. Most of the other girls in her year had chosen things like Divination and Muggle Studies instead, Maggie, however, had chosen Care of Magical Creatures - and likely because of Percy.

"Come on." Percy stood up with a smile, offering Maggie his hand. He wasn't going to take no for an answer this time.

Wonderful set is a work of art from Lynn!
Despite her resolve to indulge Percy today, a small exclaim of protest slipped past her lips as he closed her book. Maggie hadn't thought to mark her page before Percy joined her, nor had she finished her notes on the section. Spending the day with him outside of the library was likely to set her efforts back further than she'd care to admit. Still, it was Percy asking. Maggie could deny him nothing today.

She took his hand and stood to follow him. There were so few students at the school this week (and even fewer of them were glued to the library like she) that Maggie felt comfortable enough abandoning her books on the table. Besides, it wasn't as though she wouldn't return to her spot immediately after whatever Percy had planned. "Lead the way."
A small smile of triumph slid across Percy's lips as Maggie stood up. Her warm hand found its way into his own and a small pink rose to his cheeks. What had once been a childish action had turned into something else entirely and Percy couldn't help but wonder if Maggie noticed it too. Noticed the way their hands felt as if they should always warm each other, noticed the way it felt as if they could steer each other away from the problems of the world with just one small tug, noticed how very right it felt. He'd never mention it, indeed he shouldn't even offer his hand any more, but he couldn't help enjoying the small reminder of their closeness, even when he shouldn't.

As they left the library Percy asked, "If you could do one thing today to make it feel more like Christmas, what would you want to do?" He already had a plan, but he knew that Maggie likely was missing her family and Christmas at home as much as he was and he wanted to try and make it better for her.

The halls were quiet as they walked and Percy found himself grateful that for the most part the chaperones didn't seem to mind the students too much, but Percy was careful to let go of Maggie's hand - just in case - he didn't want anyone getting the wrong idea after all. Teachers wandered the hall but no one gave them any difficulties and he headed for the Great Hall.

Wonderful set is a work of art from Lynn!
A year had passed since Maggie first realized her feelings regarding Percy were more than friendship. He was warm and kind, exceptionally bright. Sometimes, Maggie believed she began to love him the very first day they'd met. However, such feelings weren't worth losing him over. It was better to have him in her life as a friend than to confess her feelings and face rejection. They were destined to be friends,.she had long since come to terms with it.

The feeling of her hand in his made those terms harder to accept. A simple friendship wouldn't cause the skin where their hands were joined to tingle. If anything, they would never even touch if they were only friends. Still, Maggie didn't release their grip until they were in the hallways. Their professors wouldn't understand their friendship, and, truthfully, Maggie didn't wish to explain it.

"Hm. Probably a big cup of hot cocoa." She answered honestly. "It's the only time of year my parents allow it. Besides when we're at school, of course." Gwen wasn't a fan of sweets and Charles even leas so. The first time Maggie had tasted candy was on the Hogwart's Express. "What about you?"
After years of knowing Maggie he’d heard her stories of the holidays: listed as she recounted family rules, gossiped about her siblings, and exclaimed over their traditions. It seemed, then, that armed with these conversations Percy had indeed thought of the best way to bring cheer to Maggie’s holiday - something it appeared she was trying to deny herself. He tried to keep his smile in check, not wanting to give away the surprise before they got there, as she reminded him of the hot chocolate. He’d remembered right!

It was easy to explain what traditions he loved about the holidays, watching his sisters’ faces light up when he had given them a particularly good gift, playing with the dogs in the parlor, spending time reading a new book as the household calmed down from the holiday. It was harder to try and find something here at Hogwarts that would capture the same spirit he would have at home. Not that he’d allow Maggie to know that. He didn’t regret his choice for a moment if it meant more time with Maggie, something that could quickly be dwindling.

Christmas dinner.” Percy settled on his answer, as they got ever closer to the Great Hall. “Cook always makes the best roasted goose and her Christmas pudding - Oh! It’s delicious. I wonder what they will serve for dinner tonight?” Percy was quick to change the topic away from himself, not wanting Maggie to really regret her role in his staying behind.

Finally they reached the Great Hall, the rest of the breakfast students had filtered out and only a professor remained at the end of the table half asleep as he read a book. “This way.” Percy led her to the corner of the room, the very end of a table, where he’d set up a breakfast. He’d asked one or two of the house elves to help, and with less students around they had been happy to oblige. Two glasses of hot cocoa sat next to plates of puddies and pastries. A carefully wrapped present was set next to Maggie’s place. “Merry Christmas Maggie!” Percy cheerfully gestured at the breakfast before them, a smile on his face.

Wonderful set is a work of art from Lynn!
Maggie knew her best friend well enough to know what he wasn't saying. Merlin, she was an awful friend to him. Were she wiser she wouldn't have discussed her Christmas plans with him at all. He would've boarded the train and she would've only had to explain herself upon his return. At least then he wouldn't have spent Christmas morning alone in his dorm until finding her in the library.

Oh well. Nothing she could do about it now.

"A roasted goose - " she began before catching sight of the spread before them. "Percy!" She squealed with happiness, wishing they were still holding hands so she could squeeze it. "It's amazing! Thank you! There's even hot cocoa!" Maggie didn't deserve him as a friend, not for the effort he just put into this. "Thank you, Percy. Truly. This is the best thing you could've given me."

They sat across from one another at the table and Maggie immediately reached for her hot cocoa. "It's as good as my mother's." She exclaimed after having a sip. The wrapped package caught her attention, causing her beaming grin to fall slightly. "I left your gift in my dorm..."
There was something more than gratifying to know that gift was exactly perfect. That something tickled Percy as he watched first the surprise, then the smile, then the squeal of excitement from Maggie as she realized what he had brought her to. He shrugged it off as if it were no big deal. “Well I couldn’t very well let you not have a Christmas morning, could I?” He told her with a smile.

Within moments Maggie was sipping her hot chocolate and Percy had set into the pudding - he might have attended breakfast in hopes that Maggie was going to as well, but when he had noticed she wasn’t going to come (a frequent happening these days) he had gone from waiting for her to switching his surprise from lunch to breakfast.

Oh,” Percy waved off her worries, “that needn’t matter. Open it!” He encouraged. Nudging the gift toward her. He’d never been very impartial toward getting gifts, it was the giving he liked. Now if only she liked it.

He’d spent hours agonizing for what to get Maggie. So much that Quin had accused him of moping around their dorm. It wasn’t so much of what to get her as what to get her now. The significance of now lingered around him. Last year he wouldn’t have had a second thought, but now…. Now his feelings were more apparent and he couldn’t pick something that she might misinterpret, might think he meant something more by it. He wasn’t willing to ruin the delicate balance he felt their friendship had become. One day he’d tell her, but not yet. Not until he was actually worthy of her and that was still a great many years ago.

Finally having settled on something he found he still wasn't convinced it was the perfect gift, but a scarf had seemed harmless enough and she would need one, besides, it was her favorite color. He’d also crafted another gift for her but in the end had determined that it would be less than kind to give her something school related for Christmas and had instead settled on giving it to her when she insisted on going back to her studying.

Wonderful set is a work of art from Lynn!

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