Home for Christmas
Jason was used to seeing the Great Hall packed full of students, the four house tables crowded with friends and acquaintances shouting to be heard over the general din. He liked it when it was busy and slightly chaotic - it was what he was used to, and having that many people talking at once meant that he never had to work to keep a conversation going. Now, however… Now the Great Hall was empty.
Everyone had gone home for Christmas. Everyone.
Okay, that was a slight exaggeration. But only a slight one! Practically everyone had left. Percy and Annabeth had gone back to Sally and Paul’s for Christmas, Leo and Frank had both gone home to their mums, most of Gryffindor house had left him… Even Thalia had gone away for the break, on an impromptu road trip with her girlfriends.
The only one left was Reyna, and she was avoiding Jason after she’d come to the awkward realisation that he was aware of her crush on him. She’d come back around after a few days, once she’d cooled off enough to let their friendship settle back into normalcy, but for now Jason was alone.
He took a seat at the very end of the single table in the middle of the hall and prodded his dinner sadly. What a way to spend Christmas Eve. He was considering skipping the food and heading up to bed to re-read Quidditch Through the Ages when the doors opened, and all thoughts of leaving disappeared from Jason’s head.
A girl in baggy jeans and a ski jacket stepped inside, pulling a beanie off her head to reveal choppy, dark hair that fell just past her shoulders. She shivered, as though shaking off the cold from outside, and scanned the room. When her eyes landed on Jason they widened in surprise. He couldn’t decide what colour they were, which he decided would be his excuse when she inevitably asked him why he was staring at her.
“Down to one table?” she asked.
Jason went into autopilot. “Yeah, they’ve downsized for the holidays.”
“As if it wasn’t sad enough as it was,” she said, and while the words were scathing she smiled around them.
He laughed lightly. “Ha, yeah.”
She slid onto the bench beside him and a plate appeared in front of her. She stabbed a broccoli and pointed it at Jason. “I know you. You’re Jason, right? Gryffindor Quidditch Captain?”
“Yeah, that’s me.” He felt more than a bit chuffed that she recognised him, but then felt dumb for that: everyone knew him. He was Gryffindor Quidditch Captain, even the first years knew who he was. Percy was the only one more famous than him.
He searched the girl’s face, trying to recall a name or a time where they’d bumped into each other in the halls. None came to mind. He was sure he would have remembered if he’d seen a face as beautiful as hers before.
She noticed his searching gaze and her smile got a little sharper. “I’m Piper.”
“Piper,” he repeated. “Nice to meet you.”
She ate the broccoli before replying, “So why are you stuck here for the holidays, Jason?”
“No family to go back to,” he said simply. It wasn’t a lie - his dad was busy being Minister for Magic, and his mum was long gone, and this year he felt like he’d rather spend Christmas alone than with his childhood nanny, Lupa. Piper didn’t need to know all that though. “How about you?”
“Same,” she said. “Well, I mean, I have a family. But Dad’s on a press tour, so here I am.”
She scrunched her face up, annoyed. “Yeah,” she said simply, not offering an explanation.
Jason decided not to press the matter. “Well. Cheers to that.”
When he raised his goblet she grinned and lifted her own to clink against it. “Cheers.”