A/N: Hello and happy holidays to you all! Herewith commencing twelve days of Christmas...
. .~* The First Rule of Film Club *~. .
Chapter One: It's A Wonderful Life
"Twas the night after Christmas, and all through the school, not a creature was stirring, not even a ghoul -"
"Actually there hasn't been a ghoul at Hogwarts since the Great Expunction of seventeen - right," Hermione says, flushing faintly as Harry raises an eyebrow at her. "Shut up, I know."
"You don't need to shut up," he smiles. "Just, it maybe isn't the most -"
"Seventeen thirty four," says a voice. "But that's an incredibly boring conversation piece, Granger."
Both of them jump as a dark figure emerges from the other end of the corridor, and Hermione knows that her face betrays her dismay when Theodore Nott steps into the pool of light thrown out by the nearest torch.
She doesn't need to look at Harry to feel his scowl radiating towards Nott, who is smirking horribly at the pair of them as he leans against the wall, apparently nonchalant.
"Now what," he says quietly, making a show of widening his eyes at the pair of them, "might golden girl and golden bollocks be doing wondering these hallowed halls in the middle of the night?"
"You've never even seen my balls, Nott," Harry says, and for a second Hermione is speechless with disbelief that that's his chosen comeback. Nott just stares at him for a moment, before he abruptly starts to laugh.
It seems to take all three of them by surprise, the bright, noisy sound of it, and Nott actually claps a hand over his own mouth, though in the low light Hermione can see that his eyes are still dancing. She feels her own lips twitch in response, and who would have thought Draco Malfoy's best friend might have an infectious laugh?
"Fuck you," Harry says, though it lacks venom. Sounds suspiciously warm, in fact. Nott's hazel eyes narrow, and when he drops his hand he's still smiling.
"You haven't answered my question, Potter."
"We're not doing anything," Hermione says quickly and, she immediately realises, guiltily. But why shouldn't she be? After all, it's after midnight; Christmas Day bleeding into Boxing Day; and even if they are honorary seventh years they have no business being out of bed. Even so, Harry casts her an incredulous look, and her cheeks redden as Nott raises a single eyebrow.
"How believable," he drawls, stepping forward and then deftly snatching the VHS box from her hands. "It's A Wonderful Life," he reads, his other eyebrow climbing to meet its pair. "What the actual -"
"It's a muggle film," Harry says, his tone hovering somewhere between petulant, defensive, and amused. "Hermione always used to watch it with her parents, so we thought we'd -"
"Harry what the fuck -" Hermione hisses out of the side of her mouth, but to her surprise Nott hands the box back to her, nodding amiably.
"I can respect a tradition," he says. His eyes gleam in the torchlight, and Hermione finds she can't read his expression. It doesn't matter though; he's looking at Harry.
"Well then," she says, half-surprised when her voice emerges as a squeak. "We'll just be go-"
"What are you doing here, Nott?" Harry asks. The question carries more curiosity than challenge, but Nott's eyes glitter again and his smile turns hard.
"Ate too much at Christmas dinner," he says. "Thought a walk would help with the indigestion."
Hermione gives an involuntary wince. Christmas dinner had been a poorly-concealed fiasco. McGonagall had solved the problem of where the forcibly returned Slytherins should sit on the large communal table by designing a seating plan seemingly far more sadistic than anything ever dreamed up by the Carrows.
Hermione had been nominally in support of the move, but the wave of relief that she'd felt when Harry had also opted to stay at school for the holidays had been telling. They'd both gently refused Molly's entreaties in favour of helping McGonagall's attempt to bring together war orphans and students whose parents were "unavoidably detained."
She can still feel the patch on her outer arm where Malfoy's elbow had brushed against hers repeatedly, despite mutually unsubtle attempts to shift their chairs apart.
Harry tips his head thoughtfully. "Who were you sitting next to?"
Nott meets his gaze, and his eyes narrow again. "Boot," he says flatly. "And Macmillan."
"Shit." Harry nods sympathetically. "That can't have been much fun."
"Fortunately my expectations were none too high."
Nott's mouth twists, and Hermione can't read the expression; doesn't know him well enough to understand the subtleties expressed in the corners of his lips.
He folds his arms as she watches, and there's a slight pause. It seems to Hermione that they're all trying to ignore the fact that they're standing outside the blank patch of wall that hides the entrance to the Room of Requirement.
"So..." Harry says eventually, and Hermione, filled with an awful premonition of what he's about to ask, feels a protest rising up in her throat, but she's too late.
"Do you want to join us?"
Nott watches the film closely, seeming utterly engrossed. He accepts the popcorn that Harry and Hermione pass to him without comment, eyes barely leaving the huge screen that the Room has seen fit to erect across an entire wall.
Hermione finds that easily half of her attention is taken up by monitoring Nott's reaction to the film. It's such a vastly different experience to watching a film with her parents, or even with Harry and Ron. Nott asks no questions about muggle etiquette; seems to accept the film's premise without hesitation after a brief perusal of the synopsis on the case.
His eyes are fixed to the screen, mouth occasionally quirking into or smile, or brows into a frown, and every so often he laughs that same warm laugh that had been so surprising in the corridor. When Jimmy Stewart throws his arm around Donna Reed, Zuzu clinging around his neck, Hermione could swear that she sees Nott's hand flick towards his eyes.
After two hours the film comes to and end and the lights come up in the Room. Nott has steepled his fingers in front of his smile, and he blinks in surprise against the sudden brightness.
"Well," he says slowly. "That was certainly not how I expected to spend my evening."
"It's great though, right?" Hermione finds herself saying, unexpectedly eager to hear what he thinks.
Nott doesn't answer straight away, pushing himself out of his squidgy armchair and rolling his neck. "Not terrible, Granger, I'll give you that."
She doesn't know what makes her do it. The flash of sorrow on his face as he glances towards the door perhaps; or maybe just something to do with the fact that she's spent the whole day being effortfully jolly and inclusive.
"We were going to watch another tomorrow."
Nott's hand is on the doorhandle, but he stops, looking back at her over his shoulder. "Another?"
"Hermione's got a shitload of muggle videos," Harry grins. "Packed them all up when she -"
"Yes, anyway." Hermione cuts him off more successfully this time. "We thought we'd watch one a night for the rest of the holiday, sort of -"
"Sort of like a film club," Harry says.
"WIth two members?" Nott's eyebrow is once again inching its way up his forehead.
"Three if you join," Harry shrugs. Hermione glances over at him to see that he's levelling a look at Nott which turns the words into more of a dare than an invitation.
"Hmm," Nott hums noncommittally, before opening the door and starting to step out. "Same time?"
"Stroke of midnight," Harry says as they follow him into the deserted corridor. "But if you tell the teachers -"
"I'm not twelve," Nott sighs. He seems to shrink into himself slightly as he walks off in the other direction, towards the seemingly endless spiral staircase that will take him back to the Slytherin dungeons.
"Is that a yes?" Harry yells, and Nott waves a hand without looking round.
Harry and Hermione look at one another and shrug, starting to make their way back to the Gryffindor Common Room.
They both turn to look back along the corridor, to where Nott has paused at the same corner he appeared around, hours earlier.
"Merry Christmas, Mr Potter!" His impersonation of George Bailey is terrible, but his grin is wide and real, before he cuts his gaze to Hermione and it drops into a smirk. "Merry Christmas you wonderful old building and loan!" he calls, as he rounds the corner and disappears from sight.
For a moment neither Hermione nor Harry says a word, and then she starts to splutter indignantly. "Did he just -"
"Shut up, building and loan," Harry grins, wrapping an arm around her shoulders, and dragging her down the corridor. "We need to decide on a film to watch tomorrow."
A/N: More films and more fun to follow. Pairings are tbc, but let me know your thoughts! Again, merry christmas/happy holidays. Much love! xx