Title: Yule Log
Fandom: Harry Potter
Pairings: Harry Potter/Salazar Slytherin
Summary: When Salazar hints at a tradition that's been lost to the centuries, Harry finds a way to revive it.
A/N: Every winter season, I send out cards to anyone willing to give me their address, and I decided this past year to send out winter-themed ficlets to slip in with them, one for each ship that people on tumblr and LJ voted for. I asked if people thought I should post them all in the new year, and most people agreed I should, so this is one of them. Save for one, which is against FFN's rules, all of them will be posted on the major, multi-fandom sites I usually post on; links to those can be found in my profile/about me page of whichever site you're reading this on. ;)
I'd originally thought to post these next month, for my birthday, and then decided I might appreciate the reviews while I'm stuck in video rooms all this weekend, lol. (I staff at Katsucon. If you're attending, feel free to drop me a line! I promise I don't bite, and I've a bag of valentines to hand out. ;)
"Why isn't there a yule log?" Salazar asked when they stepped into the mostly empty Great Hall on the morning of the twentieth.
"A what?" Harry asked, confused. The phrase sounded familiar, in the way that something you'd heard in passing but never really asked about would.
Salazar just stared at him for a long moment with that particular blank stare he employed so often. And it was only because Harry knew him so well, that he knew the displaced Founder was aghast at his lack of knowledge, rather than Harry having done something like grown a second head.
"A yule log," Salazar finally said, motioning toward the large fireplace taking up one wall of the Great Hall, where the usual small fire that started being lit when temperatures started dropping was burning. "A large log intended to burn from the winter solstice until the new year, providing warmth and light in place of the sun." He dropped his arms to his sides, something almost sad about him. "You no longer practise such," he said. A statement, because he'd clearly already determined as much from Harry's confusion. "No matter."
Harry watched, his chest aching, as Salazar continued up to the Head Table with his usual brisk air. As though he hadn't just discovered that a tradition from his past no longer existed in this future he'd been thrown into.
Determination filled Harry, and he cast a quick eye over the other early risers at the Head Table, then turned when he didn't see Headmistress McGonagall and hurried up to her office.
He met her on the staircase between the third and fourth floors, and quickly explained what had happened.
"A yule log?" McGonagall murmured. "I don't see why we can't revive that tradition, though we might have to shift some of the House tables so no one chances a singed back."
"Is that going to be a problem?" Harry asked, concerned; his experience with shifting things in the Great Hall made him think it shouldn't be, but there was a fairly large difference in removing all of the tables for dancing or sleeping bags, and shifting all of the tables just a little bit off centre, while still leaving room for students and staff to walk.
McGonagall offered him one of her rare smiles and squeezed his shoulder. "Not at all," she promised. "I'll see to it now, if you want to hurry out to Hagrid's cabin and see about finding a suitable log? Before your first class, if you can?"
Harry flashed her a grin he may have stolen from the Weasley twins at some point. "Are you saying it's bad form for the professor to be late to his class?"
"Something like that," McGonagall agreed, and Harry was almost certain her unimpressed stare was all for show.
All the same, he booked it back down to the ground floor and out to Hagrid's cabin, deciding it was better for students to see a professor running in the halls, than him being late for class. (It was possible his priorities were a little skewed, but it wasn't like any of the other staff expected much better of him.)
Hagrid, unsurprisingly, was already up and feeding various terrifying beasties, and Harry let himself be talked into helping out, just to speed it up. He managed to not lose any body parts or blood in the process, which he counted as a win, and Hagrid was game to go hunting in the Forbidden Forest for a log that should be big enough to last them until January, while also being small enough to fit into the Great Hall fireplace.
"It's big," Hagrid agreed, when Harry made a confused noise at that caution, "but a log that'll burn fer thirteen days is gonna be really, really big."
"You're the expert," Harry admitted, because what little knowledge he had about fireplaces and tending fires, had come from sitting in the common room late into the night with Ron and Hermione and needing to prod the fire back to life so they didn't have to go hunting more candles.
It didn't take them long to find what Hagrid announced was the perfect tree, and a couple of severing charms, cast by Harry, made far quicker work of downing the tree and cutting it down to the size Hagrid specified, than the half-giant's axe could have done.
"Seems a bit like cheatin', doin' it with magic like that," Hagrid grumbled as he set up the harness to drag the log; he absolutely refused to let Harry levitate it.
"Some of us, alas, have a morning class to get to," Harry returned, grinning to soothe any unintentional bite; he was distressingly aware of the time ticking by, as well as the angry growl of his stomach. Not that he particularly minded giving up his breakfast for something that would make Salazar feel a little less out of place, but intention had no bearing on his stomach.
"Oh, aye, mornin' classes. Suppose that's a concern enough," Hagrid decided, then started walking with a grunt of effort, the log following along after him.
When they reached the castle entrance, Harry held one of the doors open for Hagrid, then raced ahead to the doors of the Great Hall, shooting a grin toward the Head Table.
McGonagall had clearly been watching for him, because she smoothly rose to her feet, clearing her throat to get the attention of all the students. Once the hall was silent, she announced, "It was brought to my attention, this morning, that there is a winter tradition that we've been forgetting: That of the yule log."
Harry didn't need to look to know Salazar was staring at him, rather than McGonagall; there was only one person who could have filled her in, since goodness knew Salazar never would have.
"Thanks to Professors Hagrid and Potter, we have a yule log this year, and it will remain burning in the Great Hall's fireplace throughout the season. I ask that everyone respect the traditions of our ancestors and not attempt to put out the fire for a bit of fun." She cast a hard gaze around the hall, pausing on those students that Harry knew were the most likely to think something like that would be fun. "Excellent. Gentlemen?" She motioned toward Harry and, he realised when he glanced over his shoulder, Hagrid.
Hagrid looked between the large log and the narrow path to the fireplace a couple of times, then sighed and nodded to Harry. "I 'ppose it'll have ta be levitatin', then."
"Probably best," Harry agreed as neutrally as he could, then turned and performed the familiar swish and flick motion over the log, lifting it easily into the air and guiding it around Hagrid and into the Great Hall.
The students started whispering as soon as they caught sight of the log, and Harry couldn't quite keep from grinning as he levitated it around the edge of the hall and into the freshly-cleaned fireplace.
It was almost certainly McGonagall's idea to make Salazar light the log, for he came down to meet Harry as he was positioning it in the fireplace. His expression was as blank as ever, but there was a warmth in his eyes that made it hard for Harry to resist the urge to beam.
Under the cover of the crackle of fresh wood catching and beginning to burn, Harry could just make out a whispered, "Thank you, my love."
He lost the battle against his wide smile, and decided it didn't really matter what anyone else thought about it, because he knew he'd done exactly the right thing.