Hogwarts House Gift SwapTensions were running high between the four houses at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry due to the rumored return of the Heir of Slytherin and the opening of the Chamber of Secrets. The faculty were in a state of panic. The last time the Chamber was opened, a student had died. Already, there had been casualties. Filch's cat, Mrs. Norris, Colin Creevey, and Nearly Headless Nick had been petrified. Something had to be done to relieve the pressure.
by MadamPince and Hermi2
Head Master Albus Dumbledore thought that the way to do this would be to have each house present a gift to another house. The gift could be either hand made or bought, but it had to be something that the recipients would find useful. It could not be a gag gift much to the chagrin of the Weasley twins.
Gryffindor House had drawn Slytherin as the House they would have to present their gift to. Much discussion and debate in the Common Room resulted in no usable ideas. Fred and George kept wanting to slip some sort of hex into every suggestion, but Hermione firmly squashed their ideas.
Time was running out. The gifts were to be presented at the last dinner before the Christmas Break as a gesture of the good will of the season. Harry, Ron, and Hermione, had been putting a lot of energy into finding out if the Slytherins and Draco Malfoy in particular knew anything about the Heir of Slytherin. Harry and Ron had even infiltrated the Slytherin Common Room transformed temporarily into the likenesses of Crabbe and Goyle using the PolyJuice Potion that Hermione had brewed up for them.
Sitting in their own Common Room after Hermione had been restored to her normal appearance (she had accidentally picked a cat hair off Millicent Bulstrode's robe), Ron mused, "I feel sorry for the poor House Elves that have to keep picking up all the flyers and things that keep falling off the board in their Common Room. If I didn't know that not even Fred and George could sneak in there, I'd swear they put a hex on the thing…"
"That's it!" Hermione cried. "We can make them a new bulletin board for their common room." She jumped up from her chair by the fireplace and rang the bell to call the other Gryffindors down to the Common Room to tell them they had finally come up with a proper gift. She explained to the group what would be needed to make the simple yet useful gift then sent them off to assemble the materials.
Seeing Fred and George with their heads together in the corner, she strode over and told them in no uncertain terms that they would not add their own special surprise to the gift, "You will NOT put a hex on this bulletin board. Professor Flitwick taught me a charm that will make any hex backfire on the person who tries to hex the charmed object."
"Hermione, you take all the fun out of life," Fred said as he and George went out through the portrait to go into Hogsmeade to get the board material.
Once all the materials were gathered, the boys cut the board to the proper size and tried firing staples from the staple gun at each other. The girls cut the fabric and the ribbons to size while Hermione levitated the staple gun out of the boys' hands.
The bulletin board was put together in no time and was wrapped in shiny green paper with a large black velvet bow. Harry and Ron carried the package down to the dining hall and placed it on the floor in front of the teachers' table next to the other gifts. Theirs was the largest package, which caused not a few of the Slytherins to glare at them suspiciously.
After the meal was over, the Prefects of each House were called up to open their gift. Slytherin's gift to HufflePuff House was an expanding quill holder and an endless supply of quills that wrote in black and yellow their house colors. The HufflePuffs were pleased with their gift and Professor Snape sneered at the Gryffindors as if daring them to come up with a better idea.
The HufflePuff's gift to Ravenclaw House was a Wizard photo album that not only displayed the pictures flat in the album, but projected them in three dimensions above the album as a moving slideshow. The pictures were of the Ravenclaws engaged in various school activities and leisure time up to this point in the school year. Not only the HufflePuffs applauded for their gift.
The Ravenclaws seemed somewhat chagrinned when it was time for Gryffindor to open their gift. Percy Weasley and his counterpart unwrapped the largish round package and lifted up a huge fruit basket. The Ravenclaw prefects, who were still standing near the front of the room, told them, "It's charmed so that it will refill itself once a day for the two weeks before and the week of final exams so you can snack in your Common Room and keep studying for finals." Hermione jumped up and beamed as she applauded loudly.
Finally, the Slytherin prefects came up and cautiously reached out to touch their package. They tore off black velvet ribbon and crumpled the green paper lifting the large flat object out of the debris. The bulletin board was covered in a bright green fabric, criss-crossed with lavender ribbon and tufted with crystal buttons at each cross of ribbon. Crystal-topped pushpins were studded into the bulletin board so that it would be ready to hang up and use immediately.
Slytherin student Pansy Parkinson stood and squealed, "Ooooooh! How pretty! How did they know we needed a new bulletin board?" Draco glowered at Harry and Ron as if wondering if they could have somehow snuck a peek into their Common Room to come up with so perfect an idea, but then shook his head dismissing the thought as ridiculous. Snape was not so quick to dismiss the same thought, but he had no proof. Harry and Ron wisely kept their mouths shut.
Though Fred and George were prevented from hexing the gifts by Hermione's protective spells, they were able to get the plates to move every time a fork descended to jab a piece of food! Everyone ended up eating with their hands or they'd have to go to bed hungry.
"You know, Hermione," reflected Ron, "it might've been better to let Fred and George hex something else!"
It didn't last long, but for that evening at least, there was peace among the four Houses of Hogwarts.
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