All Characters belong to JKR
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Granger
"What do you think, Hermione?" her boss asked her.
Hermione looked up from across the large conference table and said, "Pardon?"
Everyone laughed and her boss said, "I was asking you if you wanted to be in charge of decorating the office Christmas tree, but don't worry, I'll get someone else to do it, now, on to new business."
Hermione looked back down at the piece of parchment where she was doodling. She was not listening; instead, she was contemplating the season. This would be her first Christmas without Ron, since she was twelve years old. She sighed and looked out the window. Even though the Ministry of Magic was underground, the windows were enchanted to reflect the weather outside, and the weather outside was frightful. Snow was falling freely, swirling in the wind. Hermione felt cold just looking at it. She let her gaze wander, and it soon stopped on one of her co-workers, who happened to be staring at her as well. She quickly looked back down. Goodness, Malfoy was staring at her.
The fact was that Hermione had found herself thinking about Draco Malfoy a lot lately, ever since he transferred to her department. She would steal glances his way whenever she could. She would find inane excuses to pass by his office. She thought about him all during the day, and sometimes even at night. If she were truthful to herself, she would say that she had a crush on him, but that was impossible. No, she was sure that she was just feeling lonely, what with Christmas around the corner, and being all alone.
Draco Malfoy had just transferred to the Department of Mysteries, and so far, he acted very nonchalant regarding Hermione. Even though they went to school together, they certainly were never friends. They would pass each other in the hallway, and nod politely to the other. If they had to speak to each other in meetings, they were always highly professional. For some reason, that bothered Hermione. She wanted to become friends with him, or maybe even more. She even thought about how nice it would be if they went on a date together. School was long over, so were the prejudices that kept them from being friends back then, however, she didn't want to make the first move, and apparently, he didn't either.
"Are you coming, Hermione?" her assistant asked as she was leaving the room. Hermione looked up again, and everyone else had already left.
"I'll be along in a moment," Hermione smiled. She started putting all her papers in a folder, and pushed back her chair to stand, but instead, she laid her head on her folded arms, and sighed.
"No Christmas cheer this year, Granger?" a voice in the corner said. Hermione glanced up quickly and saw that Malfoy had not left the room. He was standing against the far wall, in the corner, propped against the side of the window.
"I suppose not, Malfoy," she answered drearily.
"Are you expecting a lump of coal in your stocking this year?" he asked, pulling out the chair beside her. She hadn't even noticed he had left his perch on the wall.
"Not hardly, although, I'm sure your name is on the naughty list, aye?" she smiled.
"Would you expect anything less?" he smirked.
"No, I wouldn't," she answered truthfully. She made to stand up, but he had his hand on the back of her chair, in essences, trapping her in her chair.
He didn't speak for a long moment. Finally, he said, "So, you have big plans for Christmas, I presume? Going to the Weasel's house, sharing yuletide joy with that large family of his?"
Hermione looked at her hands in her lap and softly said, "No, not this year. Ron and I are no longer together, and my parents have already left for a month long cruise, so I suppose it's just me for Christmas." She felt his eyes upon her. She was afraid to look up. Why did she feel the need to share this information with him? She finally looked at him, but he was looking toward the window. She said, "What are your plans?"
"Nothing is set in stone yet," he said. He stood up and pulled out her chair for her. He had already heard through the office grapevine that she and Weasley had broken their relationship. He wondered who broke it off with whom. "Well, Granger, if I don't see you before Christmas, let me wish you a happy one now." He held out his hand.
She looked at his hand, and then up to his grey eyes. He was extending his hand, but was it just a kind gesture, or was it an offer of friendship? He was making the first move. She took his hand, and held it tightly in her own. There was so much she wanted to say, but all she managed to get out was, "Have yourself a merry little Christmas, Malfoy." He still had her hand. She felt woozy. There was a definite spark between them. Almost like an electrical current. Could he feel it as well? If he didn't let go of her hand soon, she would probably scream.
He let go of her hand. She didn't have to scream.
He held open the door for her, and motioned for her to step out before him. She smiled and walked to her office.
A week later, on the day before Christmas Eve, Hermione Granger sat at her desk in the department of Mysteries, and she reached over to touch a large red envelope. It was probably another Christmas card. She wished everyone would just stop sending her 'season's greetings', for she saw nothing to be happy, or merry, about this Christmas.
Hermione and Ron had been dating for six years, and suddenly last month, she took stock of her life, and decided that she didn't want the same things he did. No, that was a lie. That was something she told everyone. The truth was that she didn't love him anymore. She was ashamed to admit it, but if she couldn't admit it to herself, then to whom could she admit it? She also felt attracted to someone else. She had for a while now. She thought if she were still in love with Ron, then she would never have entertained thoughts about someone else. Therefore, in all fairness to Ron, she broke it off with him. He was crushed, and she felt guilty, and that was all there was to it.
Everyone blamed her anyway. She picked up the enveloped and fingered it lightly, her name embossed across the front of the envelope. She put her finger under the flap, and was about to draw it across to open it up, when she got a paper cut.
"Bloody hell!" Hermione exclaimed.
Draco Malfoy was passing by her office at that exact moment and he popped his head in. "What are you ranting about now, Granger?" he asked.
She held up her finger and said, "I have a paper cut."
"Poor thing, how traumatic for you," he said with no emotion. She couldn't tell if he was being condescending, or was joking. He walked in the room, and took a handkerchief from his pocket. He wrapped it around her finger and said, "There you go." He let go and sat on her desk.
"What do I owe the displeasure of your company, Malfoy?" she asked.
"Be nice to me please, for its Christmas time," Draco said.
"Does that just apply to you, or must I be nice to everyone this time of year?" Hermione asked, pulling the card out from under his leg. He lifted slightly, so she could pick up the card.
"No, you can be nice to others as well, if you wish. What do you have there, Granger?" he asked.
"A Christmas card," she answered, rolling her eyes. She opened the envelope and removed the card. The front of the card was a beautiful moving picture of snow falling on an open field, with a small single evergreen to the side. She opened the card and inside was a single inscription. It read, "You are my Christmas wish". The card was not signed. She frowned and looked at the envelope again. Only her name was on the front.
"Who is it from?" Draco asked.
"It doesn't say, it just says 'You are my Christmas wish', and that's all." Hermione put the card back in the envelope and put it in her top drawer.
"Aren't you going to hang it on your door with all the other cards?" he asked, pointing toward her door.
"No, I think I'll take this one home. It's simple, pretty, and somehow, the picture on the front seems somewhat sad and lonely," she said.
"Just like you, simple, pretty, somewhat sad and lonely," he mused.
What did he mean by that? "What do you want, Draco?" she asked, swatting his arm with a file from her desk. He jumped off her desk.
"I was going to see if you were coming to the Ministry's Mistletoe Ball," he asked.
"Goodness, no," she said, putting her head in her hands.
"Why not?" he asked.
"Because, I don't have a date, since I just broke up with Ron. Anyhow, I don't have anything to wear, and I wouldn't have time to shop since its tonight," she said, sincerely.
"You could go stag, that's what I'm doing," he said, smiling.
"Sure," she said, thinking he was joking. When he didn't match her smile, she asked, "Are you serious?"
"As a rock," he stated.
She frowned. "I've never heard that expression before. Are rocks serious?"
"Granger, Granger, Granger, stop delving off the path, and just think about going. You might have fun. It might break you of this 'scrooge' complex that you've been having," he said.
"Why are you going stag?" she wondered aloud.
"There's no one I want to take," he concluded.
"Oh, I see," she said. She laid her head on her desk. "I have a headache. Perhaps I lost too much blood from my injury," she said, holding up her finger. He took a hold of her finger, to examine it closely. She looked up at him, and she really did feel lightheaded, but more from his touch, than from loss of blood.
He rubbed his index finger over her small, infinitesimal, cut, and said, "You're so silly, Granger." He walked over to her door and turned back toward her. "I'll pick you up at 7pm. Remember, it's a dress ball, so try to look presentable." With that, he started to leave her office.
"Wait," she said. He turned back around. "If we're going stag, then why would you have to pick me up?"
He turned back around without answering, laughing the whole way out of her office.
She sat back up, and took out the Christmas card again. She wondered who sent it. She also wondered why Draco Malfoy would want to escort her to the Ministry's Mistletoe Ball. They weren't actual friends. They worked together occasionally. He was head of research, and she had to use his services a few time on things they were working on, or developing, but it wasn't as if he ever showed an interest in her. Of course, she had been with Ron since school, so she wouldn't know if anyone ever found her attractive or not. She was unavailable for all those years.
She really did have a headache now. She hated Christmas. She just decided.
The day dragged on, and Hermione contemplated calling Malfoy several times to cancel their date. Was this even a date? Of course, it wasn't. He said he was going stag. Nevertheless, it wasn't as if he gave her a choice in coming or not. He just said he would pick her up. No, this was not a date. He didn't have anyone he wanted to go with him. That was what he said.
She knew she would have trouble figuring out what to wear. Since it was a Christmas ball, Hermione figured most witches would wear red, silver, gold, green or white gowns. Some might even wear black. Hermione wanted to stand out, be different. She didn't have time to shop, however, so she would have to make due with something at home.
She had just arrived at her flat, when she saw a large package outside her door. Wrapped in plain brown paper, and tied with string, she took the package inside and opened it up. Inside was a beautiful gown of deep plum, with cap sleeves, princess waist, and a long flowing skirt. She thought it was very pretty. She removed the dress from the box, and inside was a note. All it said was, "You are my Christmas wish."Those same words were on her card. She wondered if Draco would like it. She wondered if Draco sent it. She thought how silly that thought was. He probably was the one who sent it. Why would he send her a gown? Was he afraid of what she might wear? Was he afraid she would embarrass him? She still hoped he would like it.
It didn't matter! This wasn't a date!
She got dressed and did her hair, and stood in the middle of her flat, and looked at her reflection in the mirror over the fireplace. She didn't know what to think. She supposed she looked pretty. She walked over to her little tree, and hung up an ornament. That was the way she had been decorating it all month. Everyday, she would add one more ornament. Maybe by Christmas it would be finished, but she doubted it.
There was a knock on her door. It was now or never; time to get back to her life. She opened the door and outside stood Draco. He had on dark grey dress robes, which were almost the exact colour of his eyes. She cocked her head to the side, and said, "Gee, you look nice."
"You look beautiful," he said in response. "You're a beautiful sight, and I'm sure we will be very happy tonight," he said.
She grinned and said, "Those are lyrics to a Muggle Christmas song."
"Really?" he grinned back. Then he said, "Contrary to popular belief, I'm not a moron. I know some things about Muggle culture. Truly though, Granger, that's a nice colour on you."
"Did you send me this gown?" she asked.
"Do I look like a personal shopper? Why would I send you a gown?" he asked. He put his hand on her forehead. She slapped it away. He said, "I was checking for a fever. You seem delirious." She frowned at him and went to get her purse and shawl.
He held out his arm to her and she held up her finger for a moment. She walked back in her flat and turned on her Christmas tree lights. "I want to see what my tree looks like from the street," she said. She put her wrap across her shoulders, and then she took his arm and they walked outside. Snow was starting to come down, in small flurries, all around them. She said, "My little tree doesn't look half bad."
"It doesn't look half good, either," he said. She hit his arm. He took her arm again, and apparated them to the Hall where the Ministry's Mistletoe Ball was to be held.
They walked inside and the entire place looked as if was a winter wonderland. There were Christmas trees, fairy lights, and crystal icicles hanging from the ceiling. Draco escorted Hermione to a table in the corner. "Have I been bad?" she asked.
"What do you mean?" he asked, pulling out her chair.
"You're putting me in the corner," she said and then she laughed.
"Oh no, I just thought we would rather like our privacy. We can go to another table." He started toward another table.
She held out her hand and caught his arm. He looked at her delicate hand on his sleeve, and then in her eyes. She said, "No, this is nice. Let's stay here." Hermione noticed that he said, 'we'. Was this a date?
"I couldn't agree more," he said. They both sat down at the table.
"What have you been doing with yourself since school, Malfoy?" she asked.
"Is this the small talk portion of the evening? You know what I've been doing," he said, taking two glasses of champagne from a passing waiter.
"Okay," she said, taking a large drink of the bubbly.
"Why aren't you and Weasley together anymore?" he asked. He cut right to the chase, didn't he?
"I fell out of love," she answered truthfully.
"Do people fall out of love?" he asked.
"I did, I can't speak for everyone else," she concluded. She looked out at the sea of pretty people, in their bright coloured robes, and she felt more alone than ever.
"I just don't know how someone can claim they love someone, and then a moment later say they don't," he said, almost accusing her of something, she thought.
"Who are you, now? The love police?" she said, spitefully.
"If I were, I would give you a citation, for I don't believe you," he said, leaning across the table, his face close to hers.
"What don't you believe?" she asked.
"What's the real reason you broke it off with Weasley?" he asked.
She wanted to say, 'you', but she didn't, instead she asked, "What's the real reason you ask me here tonight? And please, no games, be truthful."
"I wanted to come with you," he said simply.
"It never dawned on me that I would be taking a quiz, Hermione," he said, taking a large drink of his champagne.
"I'm sorry, I just never imagined you would even want to be my friend, let alone have a date with me," she muttered.
"Who said this was a date?" he challenged.
"No one. My mistake," she sighed. She wanted to get out of there, now. She stood up and said, "I'm going to visit the restroom. I may or may not return. I'll see you." She felt so stupid. Why did she say it was a date?
She didn't have to go to the bathroom. Perhaps she would just go home. She was on her way to the exit, when her boss waved her down. She turned to look behind her, thinking that perhaps he was waving at someone else. When she turned back, he was smiling at her, and motioning for her to come closer
The new head of the Department of Mysteries was named Edward Clements. He was the youngest Department head at the entire Ministry, at only 30 years old. He was personable, affable, and extremely good-looking. He was also single, every available woman, from 18 to 72, in the whole Ministry, had a slight crush on him, and he was beckoning to Hermione Granger. The thing was that she was the exception to the rule. She had a crush on someone else, and that person apparently had no interest in her whatsoever.
Draco sat at their table, with a glum expression on his face. He thought their new boss was a prat.
Hermione walked up to the small crowd surrounding Edward and said, "Happy Christmas, Edward."
"Hermione, I'm so happy you were able to make it tonight," the delightful man said, holding her hand, and kissing the top. Hermione blushed. Draco watched from the side, and almost threw up.
"Would you care to dance, Miss Granger?" Edward asked.
Hermione's eyes widened, and everyone surrounding them looked shocked as well. She couldn't refuse, could she? She nodded her affirmation, and he took her hand. The music started, and with their first dance, the ball started as well.
They danced three dances together. By the third dance, Hermione was bored out of her skull. All the man did was talk about him self. He was also very randy. His hand kept roaming from her lower back to her bum. She was embarrassed someone would see. She glanced over at Draco, and he was frowning. He had seen. Hermione noticed Draco walked over to the bar, and as he turned to look at her once more, she mouthed the world, 'help'. He laughed. He didn't think he would help her. She got herself into this mess, so she could get herself out of it.
The dancing pair turned once again, and Hermione faced her would be saviour one last time, and mouthed one more word, 'please'. Well, if she said please.
Draco walked over to the pair, patted Edward's shoulder, and said, "Pardon me, Clements, do you mind if I borrow my date back?"
"Oh, I apologize, Malfoy. I didn't realize that you and Miss Granger had come together," the bore said. He bowed to Hermione, kissed her hand once more, and handed her over to Draco. Draco took her hand in his, and with his other hand on her back, he decided to finish out the song.
"You could have rescued me earlier," Hermione complained.
"I wasn't aware you needed rescued. I thought all the witches in the room wanted to dance with our young boss," Draco said.
"So when I said, 'help', that wasn't an indication that I needed help?" Hermione asked.
"Who knows what you Muggle borns ramble on about," Draco said dryly. "For all I knew, you could have been asking me to help you land the man. You certainly didn't seem to mind his hand on your bum."
"I don't need help landing a man," Hermione complained, adding, "and I didn't like his roaming hands, thank you very much."
"I think you do need help landing a man. I think you need lessons in love," Draco said.
Hermione tilted her head back and laughed hardily. "And who are you, Malfoy? The love doctor?" Hermione asked.
"First I was the love police, and now I'm the love doctor?" he questioned. "Well, if I was the love doctor, I would tell you to kiss me twice and call me in the morning," he surmised.
She pushed against his chest and said, "How much holiday spirits have your partaken? You must be drunk."
"I must be," he agreed. He decided to change the subject. "So, Granger, why did you think this was a date when I clearly suggested we go stag?"
"I didn't think it was a date," she lied.
"Yes you did."
"No, I really didn't."
"You certainly did."
"You're mad," she leveled.
"And you're blushing," he accused. She removed her left hand from his shoulder and touched her warm cheek. She probably was blushing.
"Do you like me, Granger?" he asked with a smile, putting his hand over hers, which was still on her cheek.
She removed her hand. "Like you? I can barely tolerate you," she said with an air of indifference.
"Do you think I'm handsome?" he asked, still toying with her.
"Not in the least. I find you quite repulsive," she said, trying to ignore the anger boiling up in her.
"Do you want to kiss me?" he asked, pulling her closer. His hand on her back was pressing her sinfully close to him. She turned her head to look at him, and they were almost nose-to-nose.
"What are you going on about, Malfoy?" she asked.
He put his mouth next to her ear and whispered, so that his lips tickled her earlobe, "I know I want to kiss you."
She felt flushed, and she had a strange tingling in the pit of her stomach. She looked over his shoulder, ignoring the fact that he was still pressed up against her. She didn't know what to say. He solved that problem by speaking first. "Of course, that's only if this is a date. You say it's not, so if it isn't, then I don't."
Hermione, who now hated Christmas with a passion, almost as much as she hated Draco Malfoy, removed her hands from his, and said, "Well, good thing you pointed out earlier that this isn't a date, so at least we are in agreement. I think I'll go home." She went over to their table, grabbed her purse and her shawl, and walked outside.
The snow was now so prevalent that all around her she only saw white. She headed toward an alleyway so she could apparate home. She had just turned down an abandoned path, when she felt a hand on her arm. She turned around with her wand, and Draco was standing there, both hands in the air, and said, "Don't hex me. It's Christmas after all."
She should hex him, but he was right. That would not be very nice, not at Christmas.
"Go back to the ball, Draco," Hermione ordered.
"Last time I looked Granger, I had a mother. You can't tell me what to do," he retorted. "By the way, you do look lovely tonight. I knew you would. I thought that would be a lovely colour on you, when I picked it out."
She pointed at him and said, "Ah ha! See, I knew it was you!"
"I never pretended otherwise," he said.
She said, "Why would you pick out a lovely gown for me, if this wasn't a date?"
"Why do you keep insisting this is a date, Granger?" he asked, stepping closer to her. She shivered.
He mistook her shiver for being cold. She actually shivered because he was so close to her. He slipped off this jacket and put it around her shoulders. It was warm, and it smelled nice. She put her hand up to the collar, and held the lapels together. He said, "Well?"
Did he really want an answer?
"I thought it was a date because I wanted it to be, are you happy? You've made me feel like a bloody fool now, so go off and laugh at me," she said. She took his warm, nice smelling jacket from her body, handed it to him, and without further warning, apparated home.
She walked in her front door and threw her bag halfway across the room. Next, she kicked her shoes off. She took the gown off, before she even left the threshold, and she stuffed it in the fireplace. She lit a fire with her wand, and watched it burn. She felt like a scrooge, but Christmas was turning out to be more dreadful than she ever imagined. Tomorrow was Christmas Eve, she was going to be alone, and it was all her fault. Damn. Perhaps she should call Ron. Apologize. Ask him to take her back.
She went to bed and hoped that perhaps when she woke, Christmas would over and done.
The next day she awoke, and damn it all to hell, it was Christmas Eve. She didn't sleep through it after all. She half hoped that last night she would have had a sort of Ebenezer Scrooge epiphany. She thought maybe the ghosts of Christmases past, present and future might pay her a visit, and perhaps they would give her a clue as to what direction she should take her life. Instead, she was all alone to figure it out herself.
She went over to her satchel, and took out the little Christmas card that she received at work. The one with the little lone evergreen, the falling snow, and the single inscription: You are my Christmas wish. Could the card be from Draco? If it was, why didn't he sign it? The same sentiment was on the card that came with the gown, and he admitted to sending that.
What did that mean, anyway? How could she be his Christmas wish? She knew she had a Christmas wish. She wished she wasn't alone. She wished she could fall in love, have passion that she had only ever read about in novels, shared by another, and reciprocated tenfold. Most of all, she really wished that her night with Draco last night really had been an actual date. She went and showered, changed, and made herself some breakfast. She went into her living room, and decided since she had as many ornaments off the tree as on, she might as well go ahead and take them all off and get rid of the tree. Christmas would be over soon, anyway.
She put away all the ornaments, the bulbs, the lights, the garland, and tinsel. She used her wand to remove the tree. She cleaned up all the pine needles, then she sat down in her comfortable chair, in the corner of her living room, and she stared out at the never-ending falling snow. She turned on the wireless. Christmas music surrounded her, and she cursed the very day itself. She decided to go to the office, and perhaps some work would take her mind off the fact that it was December 24, and she was alone and not totally by choice.
She walked down the long corridor toward her office. The Ministry was mostly empty. She passed Draco's office, and noticed the door was opened. She peeked in, and saw his blonde head bent over a pile of paperwork. She couldn't help herself, she stopped and stared in his office. She knocked on the doorframe, and when he looked up, she said, "What are you doing here? It's Christmas Eve."
"Isn't it Christmas Eve for you as well?" he asked. "What are you doing here?"
"I've decided not to celebrate this year. No reason to, really," she volunteered.
He raised one eyebrow, and inquired, "Does your poor little pitiful tree know that it no longer has a purpose?"
"My poor little pitiful tree is probably kindling somewhere by now," she said, smiling sadly. "Well, I won't disturb you anymore, goodbye, Draco."
He said, "Sit down, Granger. Join me in some Christmas cheer. I'm just sitting here writing up my resignation." He opened a drawer in his desk, and handed her two glasses. He filled them with champagne, and then he took one from her hand.
"You're leaving?" she asked, crestfallen.
"Yes, I'm off to bigger and better things," he said.
"Oh," she said, putting the glass down on his desk. She looked down at the floor. She looked back up, and he was staring at her with an intention, which she couldn't place. "Good luck, Malfoy." She pushed the glass further on his desk, and stood up to leave. "Well, I really do have some work to attend. Perhaps I will see you soon."
She walked slowly out of his office, but once she was in the hall, she ran directly toward the exit, and left the building all together.
She decided to walk. She pulled her hat down lower, buttoned her coat all the way, and walked all around London that day. She didn't arrive home until after 5pm. She wanted this day to be over, but once it was over, the next day would be Christmas, and she would feel even worse.
She unlocked her door, and opened it to reveal a roaring fire in the fireplace, a large decorated tree in the corner, and the smell of dinner coming from the kitchen. She actually stepped back in the hall, to make sure she had the right apartment. She did. She came back inside and shut her door. She took out her wand, just as Draco Malfoy came walking out of her kitchen.
"I'm sorry, Granger, but I don't particularly want to be hexed for Christmas. Couldn't you have gotten me a tie, or something?" he asked. He handed her a mug of hot chocolate, and sat on her sofa.
"What's going on here?" she asked.
"Christmas," he responded. "You must have lived a very sheltered life."
"No, I mean, why are you here?"
"Christmas," he answered again.
She put the mug down on the coffee table. "Listen to me, I want to know why you're here, and don't say 'Christmas'," she begged.
He stood up and put his hands on her cheeks. He held her face very still and said, "I'm here to make my Christmas wish come true." He stroked her cheeks with his thumbs, and smiled so sweetly that the coldness inside her heart started to melt. "You see, Granger," he said, leaving one hand on her face, as the other went around her back, "I've had a nice little crush on you for a while, and I happen to know you have a crush on me, and since you were never going to act on said crush, the responsibility fell on my shoulders. I figured, it's Christmas after all, and if you can't tell someone how you feel at Christmas, then when can you tell them?"
"How do you feel?" she asked softly. He leaned in and kissed her cheek. She kept her eyes wide open, in case he disappeared in thin air. He leaned back in, and kissed the other cheek. He looked at her again, with a smile that made her weak in the knees.
He put his hands around her waist and said, "Does that answer your question?" He smiled widely at her.
"I think so." She smiled back.
She caressed his cheek, brought her lips to his, and kissed him with the passion that she thought was only reserved for the very naughty, or the very nice, but not for her. She ended the kiss; however, his lips lingered on hers for a moment longer, and when they parted, he said, "Have yourself a merry little Christmas, Granger."
"I will, Malfoy. I will."
- The End -