Disclaimer: I do not own anything except for the plot. I am poor.
Note: this is not Epilogue compatible and it is DH compatible save for a couple of changes. Also, a slight time-change has been made, explanations for such will be found at the end of this chapter.
To those who have still not read Deathly Hallows, there will be spoilers, so please, read at your own risk.
Note: thanks to Hecate's Diamon who pointed out a very silly mistake by me. I wrote "Enchanted Forest" while it is actually "Forbidden Forest." For that, you get my eternal love (or, if you want, I can somehow get you a piece of lemon pie for future chapters...)
Another note: Thanks to crayonbird who pointed out an incredibly silly mistake of mine concerning dates mentioned in the chapter! I was supposed to write 2006 not 1997! Thank you very much! 3
All love stories begin with the smallest, most insignificant things. Cecilia and Robbie's story in Atonement began with a vase, a struggle witnessed by the innocent, youthful eyes of a young girl. Some stories, like that of Romeo and Juliet, began with a glance, a simple look that established a love so powerful that even death could not separate their hearts. Other stories began with a dance, a touch, a song, or even other insignificant objects, such as a slipper or an apple. But, while these items seemed to useless at the time, they always began something indescribably powerful that not even the strongest of forces would be able to pull it apart.
This story, like most others, began with something small and insignificant. It, like all others, began on a normal day, and it, like the others, began between two people who, while they knew of each other, barely knew each other.
This story began with a sigh.
It was snowing outside. Large, thick, white flakes of snow fell from the gray skies and landed softly on the ground below. Despite the chill, various bodies rushed out, black dots against the glistening white blanket, every form enjoying the cool feel of the soft snow against their cheeks. They ignored the sudden breeze and the way the snow cooled their flesh; they were caught in the beauty of the world and the simple, childish love of playing in the snow.
Her eyes watched them, following their movement, trying to discern the faces of the students, wondering just which ones were her friends and which were not. However, she would have to admit that, in these days, there were very few people who were unfriendly.
Sitting in the refurbished and newly reconstructed tower, she let her thoughts drift back, the memories resurfacing as she reminded herself of just what had happened in the past two years.
The war had taken time to end, the final, massive battle taking place in the very building she was now sheltered in. It had been violent; the air had reeked of death and felt almost humid or moist with blood and tears. In that momentous battle, Neville had, in the name of Harry, destroyed the last Horcrux, inhibiting the death of the greatest threat to all mankind.
During this final standoff, the last fight between good and evil, a man showed his true colours and betrayed people who he once claimed to love and adore. With this betrayal came the death of evil.
Then, once the stench of evil and fear no longer permeated the air, the long recovery began its process. It took them two whole years to reconstruct the school, mourn for the dead, and round up the remaining threat. Now, while joy was slowly beginning to fill the air, the world was still having troubles repairing itself.
As she watched the joyful students below, playing happily in the snow, they knew that, beyond their smiles, there was an incessant amount of worry. Poverty had nearly consumed the land, pulling many rich families into debt and impoverished states of living, while helping poorer families surge up in the socioeconomic ranks.
She knew just why this had occurred; many of the richer families had either been Death Eaters or associated with Death Eaters, which caused them to lose all credibility, thus ended up with the parents losing their jobs and connections they used to heavily rely on.
For the poor families, however, the opposite happened. This only occurred if they were instrumental in the destruction of Voldemort and his minions, meaning that, if all they did was say "Go Harry" or show barely any support, they received barely any compensation from the Ministry. Those families that did, however, prove to be extremely useful during the Second Great War were given large compensations and higher positions in the Ministry.
Glancing down at the book before her, she recalled briefly how families were still being compensated for their losses; the Ministry only had so much money and there were hundreds of families without fathers or mothers or children. Hundreds upon hundreds had died in the War, fighting or being tortured to death. The numbers were still being tallied and names were still left unknown.
Hogwarts, however, had found a large increase of students this year, she noted as she glanced back out of the window. Specifically, there was three times the amount of first years as there used to be; since the school had been shut for two years, the first years from 2006, the eleven-year-old of 2007, and finally the eleven-year-olds of this year (2008) were all First Years at Hogwarts.
This, however, was no problem, seeing as many other students had lost their lives in the Second Great Battle or they had simply not returned to school. Every student from 2006 had been asked to return to Hogwarts and repeat their year. At least, every student that remained alive was.
Shutting her eyes softly, she willed to push the face of Colin Creevey out of her mind, forcing herself to become emotionally numb to the War and its consequences. Dwelling on the past would do nothing but bring more misery to her life and she could not afford to allow her mind to stray to miserable, melancholic thoughts.
Especially since it was the first week of December and Christmas was fast approaching.
This one word, the thought of this one day, succeeded in pushing away all depressive thoughts and unadulterated joy began to filter into her mind. It felt as bright as the newly fallen snow; Christmas was coming and she refused to let any thoughts of the past destroy her excitement.
Suddenly, her thoughts became immersed in swirling Christmas lights, the sights and sounds of Christmas, the smell of cookies baking in the oven, the sound of caroling, and the sight of joy spread all across the land. If there was one day out of the year that could push everyone from the brink of depression, it was Christmas.
A smile toyed with her lips, her eyes remaining shut as she became to daydream about that beautiful holiday and the happiness it brought to the world.
She loved Christmas; she loved decorating, shopping for gifts, and baking the sweetest goodies. She thrived in the smell of pine and the soft glow the lights would create at night. She loved spending the Eve sitting in front of a fire, munching on candies with her family and loved ones as they began to dream of what the next day would bring.
Hermione Granger loved Christmas.
It was then, at that precise moment in time that the story truly began; for it was at that moment that a soft sigh decided to escape her lips and cause a series of events to fall into motion.
Sitting back on her chair, keeping her eyes shut as she allowed the reveries to remain within her mind, she let out the quietest and most contented of sighs.
"What do you sound so happy about, Granger?"
Her eyes flung open at the sound of the familiar male voice. In another time, she would reply sharply and crudely back, or she would have gnawed on her lower lip in anxiety as she fought for a sarcastically witty remark. But now, in this day and age, she was too consumed by peaceful thoughts to even consider retorting.
"Christmas, Malfoy," she said softly, moving around her seat to face the blond-haired man lounging on the couch. A book lay discarded on his chest, his attention having been obviously drawn to her when the sigh had sounded.
A scowl twisted his fair features, eyes darkening and narrowing as though she had just said the most vehement things imaginable to him.
"What's so special about Christmas?"
Hermione sighed once again, wondering just how she could put into words the sheer joy the holiday caused her to experience. Her fellow student and Head (it was true, Hermione Granger as Head Girl and Draco Malfoy was Head Boy, as was anticipated since their arrival at the school) watched her from across the room, waiting patiently for her response.
Again, in another time and age, she would have not even bothered sitting in the same room as him; in the other time and age, they had been sworn enemies and death would have certainly occurred on their first day of cohabitation. However, this was a new day and age, and they were no longer sworn enemies. On their first day, they had established a quiet truce, trying their hardest not to argue childishly and to try and establish some form of acquaintance or, if possible, friendship. So far so good, with the exception of a few arguments, no one had been taken to the Hospital Wing just yet.
"Everything, Malfoy," she placed her bookmark on the page and shut her school book, "everything single thing about Christmas is special."
A brow lifted itself in curiosity as the blond sat up, forgetting completely about the book on his chest as it slid down to land into his lap. Even sitting up, his tall, lean body took over the entire couch, his feet having been hanging off the end when he'd been lying down.
"Granger, you do know that that is not a real answer." His lips formed a small smile as he spoke the words. "I require all answers to my questions to be given in clear and concise detail."
"This," she gestured towards him with the quill she had been picking up, "is why I think that, despite your faults, you could be a decent Professor." A faint blush darkened her cheeks as the intimate words and she turned back to gathering her study material. "Aside from that, I suppose I will be forced to admit that I am unsure of how to answer your question."
He lifted his book, folding the corner of the page as he shut it, and waited patiently for her to continue. His stare said everything he was thinking, putting words into actions as she watched him from her seat. She knew that she would have to find some way to answer his question sooner or later.
"Come here," she said softly after a moment's hesitation. While they were familiar with one another, more prone to friendly conversation than they had been beforehand, she still felt slightly intimidated by his presence and uneasy when he moved in too close. Perhaps it was the simple invasion of her personal space by an outsider, or perhaps it was due to something entirely different, she wasn't sure.
Getting up, he unfolded his 6'3" body and glided over to where she sat. Yes, Draco Malfoy did not stomp or walk like any other male she knew; he had a tendency to move slowly, gliding in a way that made her think of a predator on the prowl. His footsteps were quiet, his long legs moving in precise, smooth strokes as he made his way over to her.
Standing before her, he arched a brow down at her seated form, and promptly frowned when she gestured for him to look out of the window.
He was met by the sight of freshly fallen snow blanketing the Forbidden Forest, glistening as it fell and covered the ground below. He followed the flakes' journey down to earth, watching as dozens of black forms moved across the lawn, sending snow spraying and flying with their childish and erratic movements.
"It's snowing out," he stated calmly. "What's so special about snow and the fools who like to freeze their arses off by playing in it?"
Fighting the urge to slap his arm childishly, Hermione frowned up at him as he began to move away from the window. "Malfoy, can't you see how beautiful it is?"
"Not exactly," he replied, heading back to his seat by the fire, "it just see bland grey skies, cold shit, and a bunch of gits trying to see who can get frostbite first."
She couldn't help it; she felt her mouth drop open as his cold, emotionless words hit her ears. Never before had she met someone who seemed to adamantly hateful towards snow and the joy it created. Yes, it was true that they were nineteen now, perhaps far too old to be playing in the snow, but Hermione still found that freshly fallen snow brought out a childish side in her that remained hidden the remainder of her life.
"Are you telling me that you never played in the snow as a child? Never built a snow fort and had a snowball fight? Never made snow angels or built a pathetic excuse of a snowman?"
When he slowly nodded his head, she felt her jaw drop further. She fought for a response, trying to find something to do or say that might help him see the beauty of snow. She could barely comprehend just how any human being might come to despise snow and the beauty of it.
"So…you're telling me that you've never enjoyed snow? At all?" She had to be certain, had to know for sure that her suspicions were true.
He paused in his steps to turn and shake his head at her. "Never." He glanced nonchalantly out of the window, not a single ounce of mirth or jealousy in his grey eyes. They were cold and lifeless, almost numb or emotionless.
She wondered, briefly, if he ever felt a single cheerful emotion. The only emotion she'd ever seen him experience was anger. Any laughter was derived from cruelty, every smile was arrogant and haughty, and, not once, did any of those smiles reach his eyes and make them glow.
She wasn't sure if it was a question to his answer or another question entirely; a sudden need to know why he never smiled.
But that discussion, she noted as she tried to sort and file the subject away in her mind, would come at another time, when she knew more and understood less.
He glanced briefly at her before returning to his seat on the couch. Once seated, he gathered the book, adjusted cushions, and performed a variety of little tasks that, at any other time, would seem typical or meaningless.
Hermione, however, knew that he was stalling for time, for, the first time since she met the cool-hearted Malfoy; she saw something other than arrogance and selfish anger in his grey eyes.
What it was, she wasn't sure, but she would eventually find out.
Crossing her arms, filed away her more intimate and deeper thoughts, focusing on the task at hand. "Malfoy, are you going to answer my question?"
He looked up from his book, pausing in his reading for just a moment to watch her standing by the window. Her gaze had hardened with annoyance, almost as though his silence were irritating her beyond reason.
Shrugging, he looked down at his pages, barely reading the words as he considered how to answer her question. Why was it that the simplest of questions required the most complicated answers? She barely knew him; they'd been cohabitating for less than half a year, and already she was asking him all of these personal questions. Was she always like this, or was it just because it was him?
Besides, her questions were slowly starting to irritate him. She was distracting him from his book and kept gawking whenever he said that snow sucked. What was so special about snow, anyways? It was cold and wet, heavy and sticky, and it caused nothing but problems.
Besides, what the fuck did Christmas have to do with snow? Didn't this whole conversation begin with Christmas? How the hell did they start on the topic of snow?
Thumbing the page, he willed himself to stop complicating the situation; he was already confused enough by his homework and her questions that he didn't want to further irritate himself.
Sighing heavily, he looked over to her, noting her almost dominating stance, the stubborn glow to her eyes that reminded him that she would not give up until he gave her some kind of answer. He had, unfortunately, learnt the hard way just how stubborn she was.
She, obviously, had to suffer his wrath and consequences of her stubbornness. That had pleased him to no ends, watching her shriek and scream, curse and swear as he showed her that he could be just as stubborn, if not even more so, as her.
But, he sighed again – there seemed to be a lot of sighing going on today –, they had just gotten over one stupid argument – if he was right, it had had something to do with sitting on the couch naked or something – and he wasn't in the mood to start another.
"Don't start, Granger." His gaze hardened, letting her know that he wasn't in a very cooperative mood. He didn't feel like sparring with her, she would have to be patient or he would make her suffer for another week. "You want to know why I hate snow so much," he almost snarled, closing the book again. "It's snow, what's there to like about it? It's cold, it's wet, it's heavy, it's always getting into places it shouldn't go, and it's fucking cold. I don't see why anyone would like it so much."
Her brow slowly arched, teeth coming out to gnaw on her lower lip. His stomach slowly began to twist into a knot of trepidation.
Hermione Granger only chewed on her lip for three reasons.
Stress, such as that caused by school work.
Fear, like that experienced two years back during the Second Great War.
She was thinking up some creative and scary ideas.
Draco had an inkling of which of the three she was currently experiencing at the moment, and he felt all irritation fade away into fear. Unconsciously, he began to inch off of the couch and away from the terrifying Gryffindor. It didn't matter if he was not in the mood to argue; nothing mattered save for the need to escape.
There had been one particular situation where he had not escaped, resulting in his body being used as a mannequin. She had frozen him to the spot and used him as a model to show off clothes Parvati and Lavender had been dying to buy. Needless to say, he knew that, once they had started putting make-up on him, it was more a matter of revenge than anything else.
He, of course, could not remember just what he had done to deserve such severe punishment, but it had probably been something harsh.
For now, however, he could not allow himself to dwell on the past; a lip-chewing Hermione Granger stood before him and he needed to find some way out of her sight for the next several hours.
Just as he began to slowly stand, tightly gripping his book, ready to use it as a weapon if things got a little too nasty, Hermione slowly opened her mouth to speak.
"Just to clarify, one final time, you absolutely hate snow, correct?"
What the bloody hell was wrong with this woman? How many times did a man have to say something before it got through her thick skull?
"Bloody hell, Granger, I don't know how many times I've said it, yes, I hate the fucking snow! What the bloody hell does it have anything to do with you?"
"Well," she chewed a bit more on her lip, "I always assumed that everyone really liked snow. I find it hard to believe that someone hates snow, even someone like you."
"What the hell does that mean, 'someone like you'?" he spat before he even had a chance to think before speaking.
A blush darkened her cheeks, her eyes averting their gaze back to the window before she began to stammer out the next few words, "A…ah…w…well…I didn't really…mean to make it sound like that. It just…Well…I just thought everyone liked it…Even…even people who seem to hate everything. You know? I just…"
"Granger, just shut your mouth before you dig yourself even deeper," Draco sighed, throwing himself back onto the couch. She wasn't chewing her lip anymore, meaning that he felt just a touch safer than he had beforehand.
Unfortunately, it didn't mean his self-esteem was doing well. 'People who seem to hate everything…' the words resonated in his head, making him wonder if that's what she meant when saying 'people like you.'
There was a moment of tense silence between them, broken only by the sound of Draco opening his book and flipping back to his page. It was tense and uncomfortable, as though one had professed intimate, embarrassing thoughts and the result was severe discomfort for both parties.
Draco tried to focus on the text, ignoring the nagging feeling in the back his mind telling him to escape while he had the chance. He, however, successfully ignored it and told it to bugger off. She wasn't chewing her lip anymore; therefore, he had nothing to be frightened of. Besides, what could possibly happen?
"Does…Does that mean…that you don't like Christmas, either?"
Her trembling voice broke through the silence, only adding to the tension in the air. He glanced towards her, watching the way she twisted her hands, the way her eyes were avoiding his, and the way she began, once more, to chew on her full lower lip.
'Bloody hell! Why didn't I leave when I had the chance?' Because he was too stubborn to listen to anyone or anything else, he admitted silently. This, however, was not the only thought in his mind; 'Why is Granger asking me all of these stupid questions? What's so special about snow? What the bloody hell is so damn special about Christmas?'
When he voiced those words, he watched as the blush darkened on the woman's cheeks and how her knuckles whitened as her grip increased. He felt her apprehension radiating through the air, adding to his own that was slowly filling his body.
"It's just…that before you said, 'What's so great about Christmas,' and, well, I assumed that maybe you don't really like Christmas."
What was wrong with her? She sounded like some bumbling fool asking her crush out on a date. Hermione couldn't believe the stammered words were coming out of her own mouth. Normally she was so confident, she refused to sound fearful or anxious around Malfoy, but right now, as he glared at her from his seat on the couch, she felt extremely apprehensive.
Was it because Christmas had a tendency to be such a sensitive topic these days? Could it be because she was afraid of his answer? Afraid that he despised Christmas to the point that it might ruin hers? Or was it because of the way he looked at her as she spoke? The defiance in his eyes, the irritation and annoyance, glaring back at her as though she were nothing but a bug pestering him.
But…why would his eyes bother her that much?
She was going with question number two, assuming that, perhaps, he hated Christmas for his own reasons.
"Why do you say that?" she blurted out. "What do you mean, 'what's so special about Christmas'? Do you really hate it that much?"
His cold eyes glared at her, his long fingered slowly shutting the book as he shifted in his seat. She knew, instinctively, that she had hit a button and his predator-like stance told her such. Before she had a chance to back off, to apologize and run into hiding, his cool words hit her ears.
"Granger, there is absolutely nothing special about Christmas. It's just a time for fools to spend all of their bloody money on useless things and an excuse to eat like a hog. Christmas is the most asinine holiday ever to exist. I see no point to being happy that it's coming. It's a holiday for fools," he spat, ready and roaring for a fight.
He was sick of her picking at him, asking him these stupid but bloody personal questions. He was tired of Granger always sticking her nose where it didn't belong, and fed up of her looking at him that way. For the past several months he had dealt with her blurting out strange personal questions, demanding answers that he didn't want to give her. He had been patient, trying to act civil and give her vague answers, but he was sick and tired of her looking like he was some strange, alien creature when he openly admitted his hatred for Christmas.
She, however, was not able to pick up any of these thoughts and continued forward, unaware that a time bomb was slowly ticking away in front of her.
"Does that mean you've never bought any presents for your family? Never had any nice family dinners? Opened presents beside the Christmas tree, laughing and exited? Does that mean…"
"Bloody hell, Granger!" he shouted, unable to take her probing questions any longer. "You want the bloody truth? No, I've never given any presents to my parents! The only gifts they gave me were few but expensive, and no, I never opened my presents beside from bloody fir tree beside a stupid fireplace! Family dinners don't bloody exist in my house, especially on Christmas! We don't sit around a fire, laughing and talking, we never had family over, never went to someone else's home. Christmas doesn't exist for us, so fuck off!"
He leapt to his feet, marching furiously out of the Common Room before he grabbed the nearest object and threw it. As the door slammed shut, a shaken Hermione slowly sat back in her chair.
Looking down at her hands, she slowly thought over the words shouted at her. He had never spent time with his family, laughing and exchanging presents. He never got to sit down for a family dinner, talking amicably about their days or their hopes for the future.
He never got to have a real Christmas.
A deep, profound sadness welled up inside of her, pushing out a few lone tears that fell into her open palms. Swallowing thickly, she shut her eyes, trying to push his furious voice out of her mind.
He never got to have a real Christmas, she repeated silently.
How do you guys like this? I'm only posting the Prologue for now, and I plan on posting the rest as a whole once it gets closer to Christmas. Depending on the number of Chapters I have (and which chapter Christmas Day takes place on), I will calculate on which day to start posting the rest of it.
One chapter per day, regardless of my review/chapter rule. In this particular story, it doesn't matter how many reviews I get (although they are very nice), I just want to write this because it keeps plaguing my mind.
Note on time change: I am advancing the dates by about a decade. In this fic, it is 2008 and Hermione is twenty. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Hermione is nearly a full year older than Harry. She was born in September, past the cut off date for Hogwarts for students born in the same year as her. This means that she was about 18 in Deathly Hallows, and this takes place two years afterwards, meaning that she's 20 and everyone else is 19.
The reason for time change is A) to facilitate things for me. I have a tendency to mention current events, such as Obama's election to power or iPods. B) modernize things and make things a little more comprehensible. I don't feel like having to remember everything from the 1990's, I'm too lazy.
So yeah, because I'm lazy, it's easier to change the dates rather than omit or add time-related things.
Anyways…Constructive criticism is welcome, flames with be use to roast chestnuts, and words of love and devotion with be greatly appreciated.
If you are in search for any information concerning by other works, please see my profile or feel free to message me.