New-Fic Disclaimer: Only the plot, people, only the plot. And even that wouldn't exist without JK.

A/N: Merry Christmas Alex!!! And Happy Holidays to everyone else who might be chancing to read this. Okay, here's the deal; this fic is a present to my good friend Alex, who has spent the week before Christmas slogging through university finals – yurgh – and for whom I would do almost – almost – anything at all! Such as, for example, betray the Draco and Hermione ship, my OTP. Last year for Christmas she asked for a SSHG story from me, and she got it! And this year she wanted something even a tad bit naughtier – a Trio threesome fic; so here it is! This is important, so please make a note of it – this fic is neither Harry / Hermione, nor Ron / Hermione; it is all three of them. Together. At the same time. Okay? Okay. Picture it in your mind. If it's a picture that agrees with you, then by all means read on and don't forget to review!! If it is not, then this is your cue to hit that back button and go find something a little more straight-laced to read. Other warnings, besides sexual content (which won't come into play til later, BTW), are for mature themes, language, and some violence. Oh, and eggnog angst. Yes indeed. And Lavender-bashing, and villainous-Draco (but at least he's in there; I just couldn't omit my dracokins completely! I had to write him in, even if it is as a complete, evil bastard.) Anyway, here is what Alex asked for, in her Christmas present:

REQUEST:

Pairing: EITHER Fred/Hermione/George OR Harry/Hermione/Ron

Rating: PG-13 or up (you can take it as far as you want since you've been bent on wild monkey sex lately)

FOUR THINGS I want in the story:

1. a romantic letter.

2. Hermione in one of those sexy Santa outfits.

3. a discussion about Santa Claus and how he fits into the wizarding world.

4. a peppermint mocha with sprinkles.

TWO THINGS I don't want:

1. Voldemort -- I don't even want to see the word.

2. Too much man-on-man action. Blech.

So without further ado, please enjoy this little (probably 3-4 chapters) fic! ;-)

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TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT

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"It just seems silly, that's all," she said, huffing in frustration. "A costume party for Christmas? Honestly, Ron, where's the sense in that? Costumes are meant for Halloween. Well actually, they're meant for children, but if adults are going to wear them, then Halloween is certainly the only acceptable-"

"Well, I don't mind it," Ron cut in, mulishly. "It's just different. We could use some variety around here. I think it's a good idea."

Hermione's eyes narrowed. "Frankly, I think it sounds like a Lavender Brown idea," she bit out.

She could feel Ron's anger washing over her like a wave, then- if she'd closed her eyes in that instant she'd have actually been able to see it, the same fiery color as his shock of Weasley hair. It was a result, this ability, of the final, desperate spell the three of them- she and Ron and Harry- had employed as a means of destroying the Dark Lord's last Horcrux and winning the war some five years ago. Performed as a threesome, the spell had, in some powerful, primordial, and permanent way, fused their consciousnesses together. It had also knocked them out for three solid weeks, but when they had come to, within moments of each other, one of the first things they'd noticed was their new, collective… gift. It wasn't telepathy per se- they couldn't actually read one another's minds, or anything quite as concrete as that- it was more of a… a really strong brand of intuition. And when one of them was feeling an unusually powerful emotion, the other two could pick up on it as bright and clear as day.

Ron's anger in that moment was as bright and clear as a summer day in the tropics… and tinged, Hermione thought, with just the barest hint of defensiveness as well. It was the defensiveness that set her teeth on edge. Why would Ron be broadcasting that unless there was actually something to her Lavender Brown remark? She tried to rein in her sudden surge of jealousy; he was angry and distracted, so she didn't think he'd pick up on it, but she didn't want to take any chances.

Hate is a strong word. Hermione would never admit to actually hating a fellow Gryffindor… but she did not like Ron's girlfriend; not by a long shot. Lavender and Ron had been an off-and-on item ever since their inaugural snog in 6th year at Hogwarts; and it was always, without fail, Lavender who did the breaking off and the turning on, waltzing in and out of Ron's life on a whim, little noticing all the trauma and tumult she put him through every time she stormed out the door, drama queen that she was. Or perhaps, Hermione reflected bitterly, she did notice- simply didn't care. Hermione, so used to seeking out only the good in the people around her, simply could not bring herself to do this for Lavender; classifying the flighty girl in with the likes of, say, Dolores Umbridge, or Draco Malfoy, or Severus Snape.

Did Lavender really deserve to be lumped in with petty tyrants, scuzzy Death Eaters, and filthy traitors? Maybe not. But if she was above them, it wasn't by much. Hermione could hardly help noticing that her recently renewed interest in Ron coincided almost perfectly with Arthur Weasley's long-awaited ascendance to the position of Minister of Magic, and Ron's own promotion within the Ministry.

Gold-digging cow.

It wasn't even as if Ron actually loved her; not in the true sense of the word. At least, Hermione didn't think so. Hermione didn't want to think so. From where she sat, a (slightly) biased onlooker, it seemed more of an… an addiction than anything else. He certainly didn't broadcast anything like real love when Lavender was around, although the last time the little tart had slept over in Ron's room Hermione had abruptly been slammed with such a powerful wave of desire – of pure and forceful lust – that it had sent her fairly running into her own bedroom, to slam the door behind herself, fall across her coverlet, and frantically seek release from her own fingers. It had been the first, last, and only orgasm she'd ever brought herself to (Hermione Granger simply did not do such things) and she had wept in the aftermath; tears of shame and guilty pleasure. So there was little denying that Ron was attracted to Lavender. But this attraction was not love. Not beautiful; not wholesome. Nothing that love should be. And yet, it tore him apart every time she left him anew.

Hermione could kill her for that.

Ron and Lavender weren't technically together at this particular point in time, but not for lack of trying on Lavender's part. In fact, she was coming on stronger than she ever had before, trying to get Ron not only to commit to her again, but to move out of the three-bedroom flat he shared with Harry and Hermione, and in with her.

To isolate him, in other words, from the two people most likely to speak out against her- the very same two people who knew him best in all the world, and truly had his best interests at heart.

So far, this time, he'd resisted her- but her only response had been to come on stronger and stronger. And now he was weakening; that's what Hermione had sensed from his defensiveness of a moment ago; that's what made her so angry now. Angry at Lavender, angry at Ron, angry at herself for failing to protect him.

The two of them glared at each other for a long, silent moment, over Hermione's parchment-strewn desk. They'd been spending a lot of their time glaring at one another lately, ever since Lavender had started sniffing around again. God, Hermione loved Ron to death, but the urge to just grab him by the shoulders and shake him had been increasingly strong lately, and never more so than right this minute. He was beyond infuriating. And she just didn't know what to say to him, how to make him see sense. Every time she tried to talk to him it only seemed to make matters worse; she couldn't seem to find the right words. She could never seem to find the right words with Ron. She never had had that ability, not even when they were children.

There was so much silence between them. So much friendship, so much love, so much history… but so much silence.

She sighed and ran a hand through her hair; though it was as massively curly as ever, she'd recently cut it short; chin-length. Harry had said it was becoming on her. Ron had said nothing.

"Listen," she said wearily, "Ron, let's not do this, all right? It's been a long week; we're both tired. I was just-"

"You two ready to punch out and grab a bite on the way home?"

Hermione trailed off mid-sentence and looked past Ron, to see Harry leaning in the doorway of her small, somewhat dingy office. His stance and tone were casual, but his dark green eyes were serious; concerned. Hermione was sure that he'd been summoned by Ron's anger – and her own.

She tried for a smile. "Harry – yeah. I think that's a great idea; I'm famished." She looked anxiously back at Ron. Would he let this drop? One could never tell with him. He was certainly capable, if the mood struck him, of taking a relatively small thing like her comment about the costume party and turning it into a grudge that could last for days.

"What do you say, Ron? We can do Greek." It was a blatant attempt at conciliation; Ron loved Greek food. He was nearly as addicted to gyros as he was to Lavender Brown.

He looked at her hard for a moment, then gave a noncommittal grunt and turned on his heel, muttering something about grabbing his jacket and meeting them outside. Once he was past Harry and out in the corridor, Hermione slumped, planting her elbows on her desk and dropping her head forward into her hands. It had been a long day, and she suspected that it was only Harry's impeccable timing that had averted disaster with Ron.

And speaking of Harry – he was on the move now, coming around her desk without saying a word, stopping directly behind her. Seconds later, his warm, strong hands settled on her shoulders and began to gently knead, massaging her.

"My God, you're tense," he observed as she let go with a murmured uhmmm of surprised pleasure. "Hermione, what's going on?"

"Ron," she said simply. "He's driving me up the – ah, that's good – straight up the wall. Do you know, I think he's – mmmh, yes – I think he's getting ready to go back to her, Harry? Again! Why – why doesn't he learn? I just – God, I just want slap some sense into him, you know?"

She almost added, in her frustration, why do you men forever insist upon thinking only with what's between your legs?!? But she couldn't quite bring herself to voice this thought out loud. Her modesty would not allow even indirect references to such a thing with her male friends – even Harry, with whom she could discuss… well, almost anything. Besides, it was an unfair generalization; Harry didn't exhibit any such moronic behavior. The great hero of the wizarding world – if he'd wanted to, he could have led a life of utter decadence, playing off his fame and bedding a different girl practically every night. Merlin knew he had his fans; Hermione could hardly fail to notice that, sharing a flat with him and all. The scented, lipstick-kissed letters arrived in droves. But instead, he worked long and often irregular hours in a dangerous and largely thankless profession. He was an Auror for the Ministry, and Hermione hated it. There were still plenty of former Death Eaters, and plenty more of their disgruntled supporters, on the loose, wreaking nine kinds of havoc on any given day. It was a busy – and a perilous – time to be an Auror.

It meant that there was a cold, gnawing little ball of fear that sat deep in Hermione's stomach at all times that Harry was physically out of her sight. She lived in absolute dread of the day that he simply did not come home from work; that he ended up in St. Mungo's… or worse.

Merlin… what would she do without him? It didn't even bear thinking about.

But the possibility seemed soothingly distant right now, with Harry's presence so real and immediate in her little office; with his warm, strong hands slowly teasing the knots out of her shoulders and neck.

"Ohhhhh," she exhaled, relaxing at last – it felt like the first time all week – and asked herself, yet again, why it was that she didn't just go for broke and ask Harry out. A part of her wanted to so much – had for a long, long time – but it was complicated. She had finally, recently, stopped denying to herself that she was attracted to him… or, for that matter, that she was attracted to Ron as well. There was so much more to the equation, though, than simple attraction. For one thing, the most important thing, she had no idea whether that attraction was mutual. Well, in Harry's case, at least. In Ron's case, she was as about as certain as could be that it was not – Lavender Brown, right? How much more obvious could it be? True, sometimes she caught him – caught both of them – studying her when they thought she wasn't looking, but that was precious little evidence to justify going out on such a slender and treacherous limb. Especially when there was so very much at stake. Should her confession be met only by stares of horror, and perhaps in Harry's case, pity, it could spell disaster for her two oldest, and most precious, friendships. Merlin, it could potentially end them.

The thought of it made her faintly, physically, ill; a minor wave of nausea surged through her. She wasn't going to be partaking of the gyros tonight, she decided; maybe just a Greek salad instead.

But in any event, that was what it boiled down to; that was the reason she kept her thoughts on the subject of dating either of her best friends steadfastly to herself. Admitting them would be a gamble, as she had no idea how they would be received… and Hermione Granger did not gamble on unknown equations.

She sighed, shrugged away from Harry, and stood. "Well, come on," she said resignedly, "we'd better get outside. Lover boy will be waiting for us."

"Hermione, wait." Harry reached out and caught her arm, stilling her right in the middle of pulling on her coat. His green eyes, when they met hers, still had that quiet gravity about them. Harry hadn't smiled very much since the war. It had taken a toll on all of them… but none more so than Harry himself. She had tried to get him to open up about it on numerous occasions, positive that talking through it would do him a world of good, but Harry did not talk about the war. Ever. It was as simple as that.

There was something on his mind now, though; that much was clear.

"Harry?" she prompted now, because he had trailed off momentarily into silence. She watched his eyes, which had grown thoughtful and distant, focus on her once again.

"Right," he said, "Listen. About Ron. You know that I feel the same way that you do about Lavender. But you need to cut him some slack right now. He's… he's working through something, and I think he's almost there. So just give him a little more time, all right? I can practically guarantee you'll be happy you did."

As she stood there, mouth slightly agape, processing this, he caught the sleeve of her now-forgotten coat and helped her to push her arm fully through. Her body complied automatically as her mind, now otherwise occupied, raced.

What did Harry know about Ron that she didn't?

Mentally, she reviewed the past days, weeks, months, searching for some explanation for Harry's cryptic words. What could Ron possibly be working through that she wouldn't know about? But she came up empty handed. There was absolutely nothing that jumped out to grab her. She became vaguely aware that Harry was propelling her now, gently, through the door. Sill functioning on auto-pilot, she fumbled out her keys and locked her office behind them. "Harry, what-" she began as they started down the hall, but he cut her off.

"Hermione, do you trust me?"

"With my life," she answered immediately, and with not a trace of humor or brevity to her words. Two people who have been through war – to hell and back – together do not ask, or answer, such questions lightly.

"Then let him be. Let him work this out. He needs this. Okay?"

She sighed. "Okay," she said reluctantly. She still didn't like being left out of the loop – not one little bit. She reached out with her mind to see if Harry was broadcasting at all, but somewhat to her disappointment, he wasn't putting out any emotion strong enough to read.

That all changed a moment later, though, as they turned a corner and came abruptly upon Draco Malfoy, locking up his own office for the night. The surge of anger, hatred and disgust that came off of him then nearly knocked her right off her feet. She grabbed his arm to steady herself – to steady both of them. He had gone rigid, his own hands clenched into fists at his sides. She tried to project a sense of calm, but she didn't get the impression that it was penetrating the wall of Harry's anger at all.

As for Malfoy, he merely quirked an eyebrow and smirked. "Evening, Potter," he drawled lazily. "Granger." Then he did something extraordinarily troubling. He positively raked her from head to toe with that cold, slate-grey gaze of his, giving her a once-over that was anything but subtle, and undeniably lewd. "You're looking… well."

Heat suffused her face as Harry's muscles bunched beneath her hand. He was ready to hurl himself at Malfoy – God, that slimeball knew exactly what buttons to push for both of them. Well, she supposed they'd spent enough time as enemies for him to have had ample opportunity to perfect his technique.

"I wish I could say the same for you, Malfoy," she spat out, tightening her grip on Harry still further – a brawl in the corridor wouldn't do any of them the least bit of good- "but I've been meaning to ask you for a long time, actually – is the albino look something you cultivate purposely? Because frankly, it doesn't do a whole lot for you. Harry, let's GO," she added in an undertone, giving him a sharp little yank to get him moving. He went with her, albeit unwillingly. It was so unfair – so unfair! – that Death Eater spawn like Malfoy should still have connections and pull in the Ministry – he belonged in Azkaban, not a coveted private Ministry office. That was the reason that the mere sight of him around the building could instantly anger Harry past words. But now, this new tactic of deliberate provocation – she didn't know how long she could control her oldest friend. She didn't think, should push come to shove, that Malfoy's influence was greater than Harry's… but the fact was that it was at least possible; there was still a great deal of injustice – or, one might say, bought justice – within the organization.

She could feel the cold fire of Malfoy's eyes burning a hole in her back all the way down the corridor; could practically see the hateful smirk which she knew must be twisting his pale, pointed face.

Harry was actually shaking by the time they reached the street; his whole body taut and trembling, jaw clenched so tight she almost expected to hear his teeth start cracking under the pressure. It took Ron only the briefest of glances to go nearly as tightly strung, barking out a single, curt question; "Malfoy?"

Hermione had only time to think despairingly, oh no, now I'll have to deal with both of them, before Harry wrenched his arm away from her and spun back the way they had come, clearly considering going back in. His green eyes were dark and hard with rage; she actually could barely credit the extent of the impact Malfoy's behavior had had on him. He raked a hand brusquely through his dark hair, breath exploding from him in small, rapid white puffs in the cold winter air.

"What did he do?" Ron's voice was low; dangerous now, too.

Harry finally wrenched his eyes away from the Ministry's unassuming façade to face his friend. His voice was constricted; he could barely speak. "Hermione… he looked… the way he looked at her, Ron – he practically raped her with his eyes!"

"Right then," Ron said, never missing a beat – his long legs had carried him a good ten feet back toward the entrance before Hermione managed to catch him up, grabbing at his arm now, pulling him, hard, the other way.

"Ron, will you just stop it," she snapped, still frustrated with him from earlier. "He didn't do anything – he was just trying to piss Harry off, and he would love to know how completely he's succeeded! Now, instead of giving him that satisfaction, can we please just let this go, and get some dinner!? Both of you – please?"

Ron gave her such a glare that she dropped his arm almost as if it had burned her… apparently he hadn't forgotten their little tiff in her office either… but he turned his back on the Ministry without another word.

The Greek food was good, but dinner that night was a silent, tense affair.