Zabini's Twelve Days of Christmas

by Jedi Tess of Gryffindor

A/N: My annual Christmas fic, magically done well before Christmas. Normally I have to bust 'em out AND edit Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Mercifully I got it together back in November! Go me! I would like to add a dedication: this particular fic is dedicated to my dear Julie, who sat around brainstorming this fic with me. What I actually came up with has little to do our original brainstorm so I owe Julie an apology – this fic doesn't include a torrid love affair between Sir Cadogan and the Fat Lady, cliché snogging on top of the Astronomy Tower, Cho Chang's "splotchy friend," meteors, Hagrid's (dead) mother, Sirius Black, Oliver Wood, oppression, sexy Tom Riddle, or the Whomping Willow. It does, in my defense, contain Hogwarts, Lavender Brown, a secret passage, and Dobby (though without a tea cozy). It also contains sexy obnoxious Slytherins, which I know Julie enjoys ^_^

Merry Christmas, all!



Disclaimer: Harry Potter and original canon characters and situations are the property of J.K. Rowling. I am not profiting monetarily in any way from this fic. Merry Christmas, Jo Rowling, you're an inspiration to aspiring writers everywhere!


Hermione Granger was not pleased. She stalked down the corridors of Hogwarts toward the library, determined to study the last half day out of her mind. She didn't know what she was going to study, but it didn't matter. Hogwarts' library was a place Ron would never go unless dragged by the hair or threatened at wand-point. She ignored the signs of Christmas that appeared in every corridor: the long ropes of pine bows knotted with red bows, the fairy lights in the dimmer corridors, the snow sprinkling passed the large windows, the students in Santa Claus caps (which apparently were a new trend this Christmas season).

She walked passed all of it, unseeing and uncaring. She shoved the library doors open and went immediately to her favorite spot by the window. She threw her rucksack onto the table, which creaked and caused nearby library-goers to jump. Hermione glared at them all – mostly fifth, seventh, and eighth years, the three years studying for major exams. Everyone else was getting ready for the Christmas holidays.

She went into the stacks and came back with several books. Throwing herself into a chair, she stuck two quills into the mound of hair piled on her head and pulled a third out out of her rucksack. She unrolled her parchment, uncorked her inkwell, flung open the top book in her stack, and started to read. Not five minutes later, a shadow fell across her table and Hermione scowled at it. "Look, I really don't want to talk you, so ..." She realized a minute too late that the shadow wasn't Ron-shaped and looked up quickly. "Zabini," she said, more surprised than annoyed.

"Had a row with the lover boys, have you?" Blaise Zabini asked, leaning his hip against the table and smirking down at her.

"I really don't want to talk to you, either," she bit out. "Go away."

"I would do, but you have the book I need," he said, indicating her copy of Molds and Fungi: Potions Application. "I have an essay due as well, you know."

"Find your own copy," Hermione said pettishly. She wasn't actually using that particular book just now and had already finished her essay for Snape but she was feeling especially ornery and disgusted with all men.

"There's only one copy," Zabini pointed out, looking mightily amused by the little strop she was having.

"I saw it first," Hermione said, sticking out her lip and hugging her pile of books to her chest.

"My, my," Zabini said, sitting down without being invited. "Someone grab your bum today, Granger?"

"What part of go away don't you understand?" Hermione demanded.

"You have my book," Zabini said, settling back and crossing his arms. "I'm not leaving until I get it."

"Fine," Hermione snapped. "Get comfortable, then." She went back to her reading, determined to ignore him until he left. He didn't. He leaned back in his chair and propped his shiny black shoes up on the table. "Oy!" Hermione said. "We're in a library, not a lounge, Zabini."

"Just getting comfortable." He gave her a look. "You're stubborn, so I'm sure I'll be here a while."

"Until Madam Pince throws you out," Hermione said irritably. So much for ignoring him.

"I've a sixth sense," he said, wiggling his fingers in front of his face. "It's called Pince-vision. I have this eerie way of knowing when she's coming, you see."

"Do you," Hermione said in bored tones, trying to return to her Transfiguration book.

"I do," Zabini said. "Shall I tell you how it works?"

"How about you jump off a bridge?" Hermione said, twiddling her quill between her fingers and snapping it in half. She pulled another from her bag, forgetting the two in her hair.

"Well," Zabini said as though she hadn't spoken. "I get this weird feeling in my knee. Then my eyebrows stand on end and I feel this overwhelming urge to recite Merlin's Ten Laws of Magic over and over."

She stared at him. "You're not well," she said at last. She tried to turn back to her notes.

"Just because I have extraordinary perception and skill," he said loftily. "No need to be jealous, Granger."

"Spare me," was all she said. For lack of ability to focus on notes, she wrote her full name carefully at the top of the paper.

"For Muggles, your parents did a good job with your name," Zabini said, removing his feet from the table seconds before Madam Pince appeared around the corner of a set of bookcases. The way he was leaning toward Hermione now, it would now appear to the librarian that he and Hermione were studying. Bloody typical of her day, Hermione thought sourly.

"What do you mean, for Muggles?" she demanded, scowling at him.

"Muggles give such dreadful names," Zabini carried on. "I mean, Justin Finch-Fletchley. Really?"

Hermione wouldn't admit that she had always thought the name Finch-Fletchley was incredibly ridiculous. Instead, she said, "As opposed to great wizarding names like Draco Malfoy and Pansy Parkinson."

"What's wrong with Draco and Pansy?" Zabini asked. A moment later, he grinned and shook his head. "Don't answer that. I walked right into it."

Hermione felt her stupid lip curling upward and scowled harder than ever. "Are you okay?" Zabini said, staring at her. "You look like you just ate a slug."

Hermione choked back an actual laugh, hated her stupid traitorous face, and said stiffly, "I'm having a rotten day and you aren't helping." She pressed her quill to her parchment and snapped the nib.

"Really?" Zabini leaned back in his chair. "I think I almost made you smile a moment ago."

"Don't be ridiculous," she said quickly, shuffling her parchment and pulling a third quill from her hair.

"Hey, that's clever," Zabini said, staring at her head. "Perhaps if I grew my hair out a bit ..."

"Be an attractive look for you," Hermione said sarcastically, dipping her quill in ink.

"You think so?"

Something in Zabini's voice made her look up. He had a half-smile on his lips and was staring right at her in a way that made Hermione feel very exposed all of a sudden. "Oh, look at the time," she said, giving up on her notes and not actually looking at a clock. "Must dash to meet – um ..."

"Anyone special?" Zabini asked knowingly.

"I'd rather go on a date with the giant squid than sit here with you a minute longer," she snapped, stuffing everything into her bag. "Here," she added, tossing the Molds and Fungi: Potions Application book at him. Normally, she'd never have treated a precious volume of literature that way but she was so irritated it felt good to throw something.

"Miss Granger!"

"Oh, god," Hermione muttered, turning to face the wrath of Madam Pince. "I hate you, Zabini," she hissed before taking an earful and a post-holiday detention from the librarian.

Twenty minutes later, Hermione left the library feeling like her already rotten day couldn't get much worse. No porridge at breakfast, a fight with Ron, thrown out of the library, and a detention ... what a nightmare. On top of that, she had nowhere to hide now.


She jumped and whirled around. "Oh, it's you," she said darkly.

"Am I in trouble?" Harry Potter asked, with such a pathetic look that Hermione felt like a prat on top of everything else.

"It's just been a rotten day," she said, slumping against the corridor wall.

"I heard about your fight with Ron," Harry said.

"I don't want to talk about it," she said immediately.

"Me, neither," Harry said. "Shall we walk round the lake?"

"It's snowing," Hermione began. "I don't have my cloak or my gloves."

"You can have mine," Harry said, shrugging it off and throwing it around her shoulders. She hesitated. "Go on, Hermione," he said, putting an arm around her. "You need to get out before Hogwarts does you well in."

Hermione sniffed and rubbed her eyes.

"On second thought, how about Hogsmeade?" Harry suggested, starting to look concerned.

"I don't care," Hermione said, sniffling again.

Minutes later, with the help of the Marauder's Map and the Invisibility Cloak, they were strolling along the corridor under the statue of the one-eyed witch. Hermione wondered why Harry still bothered with the map and cloak, since they were perfectly able to leave through the front doors. Habit, maybe?

One of the advantages of returning to Hogwarts as eighth years, something many of their year-mates had been forced to do after the war in order to graduate, was that they could come and go from the castle as they pleased. So long as they kept up with their studies, didn't miss classes, and attended school events, they could leave the school and grounds when they wanted. Hermione loved this freedom – being in the castle too long made her feel trapped after a year of living in the English countryside. The castle sometimes felt safe and cozy, but too long inside felt confining.

Harry and Hermione emerged from Honeyduke's onto the bright snowy streets of Hogsmeade. Hermione pulled the borrowed winter cloak more tightly around her, already feeling better and admiring the Christmas decorations that covered the village. Fairy lights lined each building, sometimes in white and sometimes in multicolored patterns. Bells rang as wizarding families rode into town by horse-drawn sleigh. Music drifted from most store doorways and little pine trees had been erected and decorated outside some of the shops. The gentle sprinkle of snow continued, adding a glitter to the town.

Harry led Hermione into the Hog's Head, which was their new venue of choice. Old Abe was always pleased to see them and hear the news from the school. Though he said the war had taught him to keep track of the world around him, Hermione suspected he really enjoyed the company of young people. Since most of the former DA members who were of age came regularly to the Hog's Head these days, Old Abe had taken to cleaning the place up. Hermione saw that he'd even been to some trouble to put up Christmas decorations.

"Hey, Abe." Harry sat himself at the bar and Hermione hung her coat over the chair beside him.

"Potter. Hermione." He nodded to both of them. "What's the word?"

"Hermione's having a time of it today," Harry explained, patting his friend's hand. "Got anything for that?"

"Just a minute." Old Abe vanished behind the bar and returned a moment later with a steaming mug and a large hunk of chocolate so dark brown it was almost black. Hermione smiled, warmed by the sight of the chocolate and the drink.

"Thanks," she said.

"Don't mention it," Old Abe grunted, though Hermione caught the twitch of his lip. "What'll it be, Potter?"

"Usual," Harry said, which meant Turkish coffee with a shot of fire whiskey. Hermione didn't like the way Harry drank, and though she wasn't actively worried about alcoholism, she kept an eye on him just the same.

Old Abe vanished and returned again with the drink. Harry took a large swallow, set the cup down with a long sigh of relaxing nerves, and turned a knowing smile on Hermione. "All right, Granger," he said. "Let's have it, then."

Hermione looked down at her mug. She took a swallow of her drink. It was bittersweet hot chocolate with something that kicked mixed in. "Just little stuff," she said. "You know when you have a day where everything seems to go wrong?"

"Until your best friend swoops in and buys you a drink?" Harry said, taking another sip of tainted coffee (his name for it).

"Right," she agreed. They weren't brother and sister but Hermione usually pretended they were. He knew her so well. "It's Ron again," she admitted haltingly. "I mean, there's other stuff. Zabini was bothering me in the library and because of him I got detention and Madam Pince hates me. I used to be able to go to the library and – "

"Hide?" Harry suggested with a knowing look.

Hermione hesitated.

"We all have places we go to hide," Harry assured her. "I myself go to the Owlry. Ron goes to the kitchens. And you, Miss Bookworn," he said. "You go to the library." His smile slipped into a frown. "Who cares if Pince gave you detention?" he said. "She'll come round. You know her whole life is that library. She knows you love the books and take care of them."

"I threw one," Hermione murmured, turning red. "At Zabini."

Harry gave a startled laugh. "Really?" he said, leaning forward. "Why?"

"I don't know," Hermione admitted. "He was really annoying me and – I wanted to throw something at him. I was holding a book. End of story."

"He must have really hacked you off, then," Harry said. His eyes narrowed. "What did he do?"

"Oh, nothing," Hermione said. She saw the look on his face and reached over to squeeze his hand. "Nothing, honestly, Harry. He just sat down and kept demanding I give him this book. I was feeling bent about Ron still and so I kept refusing the give Zabini the book. If I'd given it him, he'd probably have left."

"Oh." Harry relaxed a bit, taking another swallow of his drink. "Hermione," he said suddenly. "Ron told me what your fight was about this morning. It was stupid; he knew it, I bet you know it. I mean," he said, rolling his eyes. "Who fights about changing the tissue box in the common room?"

"Ron and I, apparently," Hermione muttered. Harry laughed again.

"What was the fight really about, though?" he went on.

"I never know what we're fighting about," Hermione said, rubbing her forehead with the heel of her hand. "That's why we broke up. It didn't matter how hard we tried, we never seemed to not fight." She tried a smile. "I expect we'll grow out of it. As friends."

"Did it ever occur to you that you're beautiful?" Harry said in his abrupt way. Hermione's eyes widened and she hastily pulled her hand from his. He saw her face and burst out laughing. "Come on, Hermione, it's me," he chortled. "I'm not hitting on you, I'm just stating a fact."

"Don't do that!" Hermione hissed. "You're the best friend I count on not to turn weird."

"Don't worry," Harry said. "You're like my sister and you know it." He caught her hand and pulled her closer. She relaxed and let him. "But look, Hermione, you are beautiful and Ron sees that. It's a sore spot with him that you're not his anymore. Other boys see you're beautiful too, and Ron knows it. I reckon Zabini sees it."

Hermione wrinkled her nose. "He just wanted a book."

Harry raised his eyebrows before turned back to his drink.

"Shut up," Hermione told him, going red and gnawing absently on the hunk of dark chocolate Old Abe had given her.

"My, my," a smooth voice said behind them. "Isn't this cozy."

Hermione couldn't believe it. Fifteen minutes of peace with her best mate and now her day was headed for the bins again. "Zabini," she muttered, slumping forward onto the bar and continuing to gnaw on the hunk of chocolate.

"Zabini," Harry said cheerfully, swallowing the rest of his tainted coffee. "What do you think, empirically, as a bloke, about Hermione? Is she objectively beautiful?"

"Harry!" Hermione shrieked as he gave her bar stool a tweak and spun her to face Zabini. Just to be contrary, she kept gnawing on the chocolate.

"Well, you're not going to believe me because I'm your best mate," Harry said, a wicked twinkle in his eye. "So see what Zabini, a totally objective outsider with no personal interest in the matter, has to say."

"Potter, are you on drugs?" Zabini demanded, his lip curling.

"Only a gallon of fire whiskey," Hermione said, giving her friend a dirty look.

"Malfoy's the drug addict," Harry said, smirking. "I'm the alcoholic."

"Harry, that's not funny," Hermione reprimanded. She caught his chin and turned his face toward hers until he met her eyes. Very seriously, she said, "Not. Funny."

"Don't fuss," he chided, patting her hand. "Now, then, Zabini. Is Hermione beautiful?"

"That's a loaded question," he said slowly. Hermione frowned, bowed her head, and had another go at the hunk of chocolate.

"Oy, watch it," Harry said warningly to Zabini. He rested a hand on Hermione's shoulder.

"Oh, sod off, Potter," Zabini retorted. "I meant if I say no, you'll hit me and Granger will cry. If I say yes, you'll read too much into it and probably still try to hit me."

Harry chuckled. Hermione glared at Zabini. "I don't give a damn what think of me, Zabini," she snapped. "I wouldn't cry."

"You would," Zabini countered. "So what do I do, Potter?"

"Try being honest," Harry said, raising his eyebrows.

"Fine. Yes, I think you're beautiful, Granger," Zabini said gruffly. He shook his finger warningly. "Don't read anything into it. It's purely objective observation."

Hermione felt a little flutter in her chest, but fixed a stern look on her face. "Whatever, Zabini, I'm over it." She turned back to the bar and went at the chocolate again. "Stop laughing, Harry!" she cried, punching his shoulder. He immediately stopped and scowled at her.

"Go on, I told you," he grumbled, nudging her gently back. He gave her an evil grin. "Shall I take a survey?"

Hermione lunged at him and he skipped easily out of reach, his tainted coffee clutched to his chest. "You're so violent," he said clinically. "Perhaps you need counseling."

"Ha ha. You're such a riot, Potter," she muttered, hunkering over her chocolate. A minute later someone sat down beside her. She opened her mouth to tell Harry he was not a nice boy but froze when she saw it was Zabini. "Where's Harry?" she demanded.

"He suddenly had a pressing urge to talk to Parvati Patil," Zabini said, nodding at Harry who was indeed leaning against the mantle and talking to Parvati. When he saw Hermione looking, he gave her another evil look and mimed maniacal laughter. Parvati glanced at Hermione as well, pointed at Harry, and made a "he's not all there, don't make any sudden movements" gesture. Hermione rolled her eyes.

"You heartbroken, Granger?" Zabini asked, calling her attention back to his unwelcome presence at her side.

"Heartbroken because my best mate is completely mad?" Hermione said, raising her eyebrows. "He's always been completely mad, Zabini; it's something I just have to live with."

"Heartbroke he abandoned you for another girl," Zabini corrected. "You do have a habit of dating your best friends."

"It happened once and believe me, it won't be happening again," Hermione said with a small shudder. Then she frowned. "Why this interest in my dating habits, Zabini?"

"No interest," he said lightly.

"Right," Hermione said, going back to her drink. She frowned. "Did you follow me here?" she demanded.

"Don't flatter yourself," he said. "Oy, Abe!"

Old Abe appeared behind the bar. "Oh, it's you," he said without enthusiasm. Though most of the Slytherins who'd initially high-tailed it out of Hogwarts before the final battle had returned to help, Old Abe didn't have much patience with any of them.

"Don't let your excitement at seeing me get in the way of your work," Zabini said. Old Abe growled under his breath. "What is Granger drinking? I want one."

"It's my special drink," Hermione said, pouting. "He only makes it for me."

"Too right," Old Abe said. Hermione gave him a grateful look.

"I'm his favorite," she went on, gnawing on her chocolate. Old Abe's eyes softened but he said gruffly, "What do you want, Zabini?"

"A drink, obviously," Zabini said. "A chocolate drink. With booze in."

"I'll see what I can do," Old Abe said with a look just shy of contemptuous. He vanished behind the bar again.

"Grouchy bloke," Zabini murmured.

"He wasn't before you turned up," Hermione said shortly.

"Why are you bound and determined to be rude to me, Granger?" Zabini asked with a half-smile Hermione was beginning to recognize. "I mean, don't get me wrong, you're very good at it. I just wonder why you're compelled to do it."

"Maybe I just don't like or trust you, Zabini," she said with a chilly smile. "That ever occur to you?"

"Please," he said, rolling his eyes. "You adore me."

"I beg your pardon!" Hermione said indignantly, almost dropping her precious lump of chocolate.

"And I can prove it to you," Zabini went on. Old Abe appeared, set Zabini's drink down in front of him, and turned to Hermione. "If this bloke is bothering you, Hermione, you just give the word."

"Thanks, Abe," she said with a superior smile at Zabini, who looked indignant. "I think I can handle this one."

"Hmph." Old Abe went off, mumbling under his breath.

"My god, you've got a small army protecting your virtue, Granger," Zabini said, his lip twisting.

"They're my friends and of course they want to protect me," Hermione said, smiling after Abe. "That's what friends do. They just don't realize that I'm totally capable of taking care of myself."

"Capable is the word," Zabini agreed. Hermione raised her eyebrows. "Anyone who knows anything about you knows how capable you are," he said, shrugging. "Just an observation."

"Totally objective, of course," Hermione said, frowning as she studied him.

"Obviously," Zabini said. "Anyway, you do adore me."

"Oh, right," Hermione scoffed into her drink. She had no more chocolate to gnaw on so she settled for a straw she grabbed from a container behind the bar.

"Let me prove it, then," Zabini said. "Empirically."

Hermione was immediately wary. "What do I have to do?"

"Nothing," Zabini promised, grinning as he slid off the bar stool, drink in hand. "Just keep an eye out, that's all."

"Zabini," Hermione began, very nervous all of a sudden. With a wink, he turned and wandered toward the door. Draco Malfoy and Pansy Parkinson came into the Hog's Head, kicking snow off their boots. They both saw Harry, who was just making his way back to Hermione. Harry looked quickly away, as did Malfoy, but Pansy glared in Harry's direction.

"So, then," Harry said, settling himself on the bar stool Zabini had just vacated and ignoring Pansy completely. "How did it go?"

"I don't know," Hermione said, throwing a look at Zabini. He was talking to his friends and heading toward the fire. "But I'm worried."

"How worried?" Harry asked, downing the last of his tainted coffee and setting the cup down.

"Not Death Eater worried," Hermione assured him. "Just ... intellectually worried." She saw his frown and laughed a little. "He's going to try and prove that I adore him."

"He's what?" Harry said, staring at her.

"I don't know!" Hermione said, throwing her arms up in the air. "But you see why I'm bothered."

"Oh, definitely." He studied her a moment. "Can you handle it? Sorry, I didn't think he was going to be a problem when I went off."

"I think I can handle it, yeah," she said. "I'm just worried about what happens when he decides he's proved himself right."

"Perish the thought," Harry said, nudging her. She nudged him back and nearly toppled him off the bar stool. "All right," she said, tossing back the last of her chocolate. "That's enough comforting Hermione Granger for today." Harry slid his arm around her waist, that comfortable pressure she remembered from Godric's Hollow graveyard, and together they left the pub.

What Hermione didn't see was the look Zabini gave her retreating back.


Feeling that karma demanded it, Hermione went and found Ron. Maybe it was the spiked hot chocolate or maybe the talk with Harry but suddenly she was feeling charitable.

"I'm – sorry, too," Ron mumbled haltingly when she found him. "Stupid fight."

"Stupid fight," Hermione agreed.

"It's this common room," Ron complained, glaring around at it. "If we were in Gryffindor – "

"Ron, we fought in Gryffindor, too," Hermione pointed out, settling herself by the fire. "Anyway, it's not fair on the Gryffindors to have all us extra students there with them."

When it was decided that there would be an optional eighth year offered, no one realized how many seventh years would want to return. When the sign-ups came back, Professor McGonagall had looked grimly over her spectacles and said they'd have to make "arrangements." The arrangements were additional classes, additional staff, and an eighth year common room. No one was less pleased about this than the Slytherins, who claimed the other houses would victimize them. That hadn't stopped most of them coming back and to everyone's surprise, with minimum conflict. Hermione suspected everyone was sick of fighting – sick of anger and divide and war.

Except herself and Ron, apparently.

"Oh, go on," he grumbled, but took a seat beside her on the sofa. He hesitated. "You didn't – you didn't take it to heart, did you? What I said? I didn't mean it."

She gave him a smile. "I know you didn't. I went to the pub with Harry and felt better."

"With Harry?" He tried to hide it but there was an edge to his voice.

Hermione ignored it. She always did. "He saw I was unhappy and took me to Old Abe for something to make me feel better." She tactfully did not mention Zabini, fearing the consequences. She hoped Zabini would have the good sense to keep his sudden and suspicious interest in Hermione out of Ron's way.

"She's fine now," Harry promised, sitting on Ron and Hermione and wiggling until they let him sit between them. He put an arm around both of them. "We had a lovely drink and then Hermione hauled my sorry pissed arse back here."

He also tactfully did not mention Zabini.

"You weren't drunk," Parvati cut in, stretching out on the rug in front of them. "You were pretending so you wouldn't have to walk back to the castle. Heavy bloody thing, aren't you?" She had left the bar with them.

"I wasn't pretending!" Harry said, trying to sound indignant. "And I'm not heavy!"

"Were. Are," Parvati said. "Hey, Hermione, Hannah's having a slumber party in her room tonight. All the girls are invited. Want to come?"

All the girls, meaning Pansy Parkinson.

"Yeah, sure," Hermione the masochist said. "Love a slumber party."

"Good!" Parvati said. "I've been meaning to take a bludgeon to your hair for ages."

"What's wrong with my hair?" Hermione demanded, knowing the answer and that Parvati wasn't cruel enough to give it.

"It clogs the drain in the showers, Granger," Pansy Parkinson said as she and Daphne Greengrass made for the stairs. "Why don't you use a potion or something? You'd look half decent if you bothered about yourself once in a while."

"Some people think I'm beautiful!" Hermione hollered over her shoulder at Pansy's retreating back.

"Who, then?" Pansy sing-songed over the banister. Daphne laughed.

"Who thinks you're beautiful?" Ron demanded. Oh, lovely. They were about to row again, Hermione thought, feeling suddenly drained.

"I do," Harry cut in, giving Hermione a little squeeze. "And so do you."

"I think she's quite nice," Parvati agreed.

"Sexy beast," Seamus Finnegan said as he tore by with Dean's football under his arm.

"Lovely!" Dean agreed, trying desperately to catch up to his friend.

"Charming," Hermione muttered, turning red. "People will say I led them on."

"Who will?" Ron demanded.

"Stuff it, Ronald," Lavender Brown said as she settled herself on the hearth rug beside Parvati. She would never forgive Ron for "breaking her heart" as she put it. She could forgive Hermione because Hermione had broken Ron's. Hermione looked at Lavender now and saw her scarred face break into a dimpled smile. Like Bill, she'd been mauled by a werewolf. Also like Bill, she wore her battle damage proudly. "Don't be so nosy."

Ron spluttered, Harry laughed, and Dean slide-tackled Seamus into a table full of former Hufflepuffs who were studying for their N.E.W.T.s. "Oy!" Ernie MacMillan said, shoving the brawlers off the table. "You've ruined my notes!"

And then Dean and Seamus were running from an irate band of Hufflepuffs.

"What a quaint living space we have," Hermione said, ducking as Dean leapt over the sofa.

"I suppose you'll say we have to study now, too," Ron said, looking martyred both by Lavender's cruelty and Hermione's scholastic pursuits. "Now you've been reminded."

"You can do whatever you want," Hermione said, stretching out comfortably. "I'm going to sit by the fire and maybe poke Harry if he starts to drool." In all the excitement, Harry had nodded off, his head on Hermione's shoulder. Ron scowled. "Stop it, Ron," Hermione ordered.

"Jealousy is so unbecoming in a man," Lavender observed scathingly.

"Sexy beast!" Seamus sing-songed as he tore passed with Hufflepuffs on his tail.


Hermione wasn't sure when she'd stopped worrying about the N.E.W.T.s. She still loved to read and learn; she still spent vast amounts of her free time in the library. She wanted to take the N.E.W.T.s and was sure she would pass but for some reason she wasn't plagued by panic. She wondered if it wasn't a change in priorities. After all, she knew she would pass, she knew she'd study enough and practice enough. Perhaps spending the entire previous year just trying to stay alive had put her life into perspective.

She wasn't the only one. The eighth year common room was often filled with people playing games, talking by the fire, or studying half-heartedly. Neville Longbottom had become the social butterfly of the group with friends in every house. To everyone's amazement, he'd been the first to reach out to the former Slytherins, despite the bullying they had always put to him before the war.

Now he had a fan club of former Slytherin girls. Hermione noted that he seemed appropriately alarmed.

"Why Longbottom?" Draco Malfoy would mumbled feverishly to himself, watching with an amazement Hermione shared as Daphne Greengrass and Millicent Bulstrode cornered Neville and begged him for some "tutorials." They were soon joined by Annika MacNair and Pansy Parkinson.

"Why Neville?" Ron could also be heard saying, looking totally perplexed.

"Boys," Hermione would say, rolling her eyes.

As December wore on, Hermione began to relax about The Zabini Incident, as Harry called it. She'd been keeping a weather eye out but since the first of December when Zabini'd talked to her in the library and later in the Hog's Head, he hadn't said a word to her. It was only when she accidentally caught his eye that she started worrying again. He'd wink or have this secretive look in his face. No, Hermione didn't like it a bit. But it was hard to worry when Christmas trees were going up all over the castle and snow continued to fall. When they woke up on the twelfth of December, the common room was filled with pine boughs, red bows, and an enormous Christmas tree. It was Hermione's first Christmas at Hogwarts without some kind of worry relating to dark lords and world domination. While Harry and Ron got restless, Hermione found the time restful. She'd never been so grateful for peace (as peaceful as it ever got in a dormitory filled with former members of every house).

On the evening of the twelfth, an owl arrived for Hermione. She was conveniently standing by one of the large common room windows, staring blissfully out at the snow and feeling deeply grateful that she wasn't out in it in a tent as she had been this time last year, when an owl appeared out of the whiteness and tapped the window with its beak. It looked like one of the school owls, though it was a snowy like Hedwig and for a moment, Hermione felt a pang. She shook the feeling away and opened the window. The owl flew in, landed on a table full of studying eighth years, and offered Hermione its leg.

"Who's the owl from, Granger?" Millicent Bulstrode demanded, making a grab for the envelope. The owl gave her a vicious peck about the fingers and she squealed.

"I don't know," Hermione said, taking the envelope away from the former Slytherins and Ravenclaws seated around the table.

She settled herself by the window to open her mail. Inside were a series of photographs, all of her. Hermione rifled through them, baffled and a little nervous. What madman was taking candid pictures of her? She looked more closely and realized that in every picture she was looking directly at the camera. She racked her brain, trying to remember if she'd seen anyone around with a camera. She really couldn't think of anyone. She rifled around some more until she found a note, in handwriting she didn't recognize.

On the first day of Christmas, Miss Granger said to me,

I adore you, Blaise Zabini.

Empirical evidence: You're always staring. Really, Granger, it's a bit weird.

Hermione didn't realize she was glaring until Terry Boot cleared his throat. "Did I do something, Hermione?"

"What?" She blinked, realizing she was staring blindly at the study group.

"You looked like you wanted to throttle me," Terry said nervously. "What did I do?"

Pansy and Millicent snickered. "Nothing," Hermione assured him. "Sorry, Terry. Just ... lost in thought. Malfoy," she said suddenly. He looked up warily from his notes. "Have you seen Zabini around?"

"Not bloody likely," he returned, relaxing and going back to his notes. "Git's been skulking round for weeks. No idea what he's doing." He looked sharply at her. "Why?"

"Nothing," Hermione murmured, tucking the pictures and notes away. Deep in thought, she wandered toward the dorms.

"If you see him, tell him he owes me three Galleons!" Malfoy called after her as she climbed the steps.

"Like you need them," Hermione retorted absently. "I've seen your house, Malfoy."

"She's seen your house?" Pansy demanded. "What the hell does that mean, Draco?"

"Shut up," Malfoy advised through tight lips.

"You had Hermione Granger at your house?" Daphne asked in amazement. "I mean, really, Draco. Why?"

Hermione wished she'd kept her mouth shut. It had just slipped out, that reference to her visit and imprisonment at Malfoy Manor last year. She'd been tortured by his aunt, locked in the cellar, and only just escaped with her life. She didn't blame Draco – in his own way he'd been a prisoner too.

She stuffed the envelope under her pillow and curled up in her bed, trying not to remember the pain that had filled every pore of her body with fire and ice at the same time. With that memory came others she didn't want. She bit down on her lip but couldn't stop the tears.


She spent the next day, when she wasn't in classes, with Harry and Ron. They didn't ask why she was suddenly so clingy and she didn't tell them. Instead, they amused her by playing the most violent game of Exploding Snap she'd ever seen (Seamus and Justin Finch-Fletchley had introduced the idea of throwing the Snap cards at each other as part of the game – Hermione never played anymore, especially when Teddy Nott and Lisa Turpingot involved). They fed her bits of gingerbread they'd nicked from the kitchens and told her about a bizarre encounter they'd had with Peeves, who had offered to be Harry's handmaid.

"He'd be worse than Dobby, certainly," Hermione said.

"Dobby's offered to be Harry's handmaid?" Ron said, choking on his gingerbread.

"Please don't violate my innocent soul by saying that ever again," Harry pleaded, looking very upset.

"Potter has a handmaid?" Teddy Nott smirked in passing. "Fitting, Potter." He paused. "Are you playing Snap, then? Can I play?"

"I don't know," Harry said slowly. Nott gave him a dirty look. "It's not because you were Slytherin, you git, it's because you cheat!"

"You're just scared I'll win, Potter," Nott said, sticking his nose in the air. "Well, if you're going to get your knickers in a bunch, I'll just – "

"Oh, it's on," Ron said, his eyes narrowing as he re-dealt the shredded deck. Hermione quickly vacated to a safe distance as Nott settled himself in a chair by the table, looking smug.

"Smart move," a voice said at Hermione's elbow. She turned and found Zabini lazing about in an armchair behind her. Her eyes narrowed.

"What's that about?" he demanded.

"Creepy, much?" Hermione hissed, hoping against hope that no one would notice them talking. "Where did you get a camera?"

"I didn't use a camera," he said. "What kind of wizard do you take me for, Granger? It was just a simple spell. Go on, it wasn't half as creepy as you staring all the time."

"I was not staring!" she countered. "I was worried about whatever your 'empirical evidence' was going to be. I was keeping an eye out."

"Whatever you want to call it," Zabini said, flipping idly through his book. "Anyway, I said don't worry about it."

"I do, though," Hermione retorted. "How much empirical evidence are you going to collect?"

"Like all good researchers, I'm going to collect enough to prove my case without a shadow of a doubt," he said, shrugging. "You'd do the same I'm sure."

"Not if I had to stalk someone!" Hermione said in a thin scream.

"Blaise, there you are."

Hermione took a smart step backward as Malfoy appeared. He looked back and forth between them and Hermione tried desperately to think of a way to explain why was she talking to Zabini. "Get stuffed, Zabini, and quit stalking me," was her brilliant retort. She thought about clubbing herself to death.

"Not until you admit I'm right," he said. "What, Draco?"

Malfoy was smirking, his whole face a mask of delight. Hermione thought he looked more mischievous than malevolent. At least that was something. "I may sick wild dogs on you," she warned Zabini.

"Oh, you will not," he said comfortably. "What, Draco?"

Hermione took herself off before Malfoy could mock her to her face. She risked returning to the Exploding Snap game because that was where Harry and Ron were – an unfortunate choice that left her favorite jumper singed. "Sorry, Hermione," Harry said. His hair stood straight up all over his head and his glasses were crooked. "I beat Nott, though," he added as a cheery afterthought.

"Oh, barely," Nott said with disdain, brushing off his hands which were smeared with black soot. "One game, Potter."

It was so easy to manipulate Harry, Hermione thought with a sigh, as her friend rounded on Nott and demanded a rematch. A tap at the window mercifully distracted Hermione from strangling her best friend. Another owl flew in and offered her an envelope. Hermione took it, glancing at Zabini, who was talking with Malfoy. Zabini gave her a shark-toothed grin. Malfoy turned, saw where his friend was looking, and gave him a look of supreme disgust. Hermione hurried up the dormitory steps before anyone could mock her. She sprawled across her bed and opened the second package. Inside was a straw, bent and twisted and chewed on. There was another note.

On the second day of Christmas, Miss Granger said to me

You're so gorgeous, Blaise Zabini ...

Empirical evidence: I make you very nervous. A sure sign you can't resist me.

Hermione made an interesting growling sound in the back of her throat just as Pansy Parkinson came through the door. How Hermione wound up in the same dorm room as Pansy was a mystery, as even the teachers knew how much they loathed each other. Hermione whisked the contents of the envelope out of sight – far, far too late.

"My, you're popular," Pansy said.

"Aren't I just," Hermione said absently. She pulled the bent straw out and toyed idly with it. "I wonder if wizards get bird flu," she murmured, twisting the straw into a knot.

"Bird flu?" Pansy said, her lip curling. "Granger, are you on drugs?"

"Why, do you have some?" Hermione asked desperately.

"If I did I wouldn't share them with you." Pansy snorted and left the room.


Hermione wasn't sure how she got through the next day. She couldn't focus in her classes and found herself doodling in the margins of her notes. She was forced to ask Eloise Midgeon for her Charms notes as hers were of no use to anyone at all and subsequently vanished at the end of the lesson.

"Sure," Eloise said slowly. "Are you all right? I mean, usually I have to ask you for your notes, not the other way round."

"I'm just distracted today," Hermione said as she scribbled Eloise's notes onto her parchment. "Thank you."

"Zabini getting to you?" Harry asked in an undertone as they came from Transfiguration. Hermione told him about the mail she'd been getting. "Bloke knows how to make a point," Harry said, looking amused.

"Why is he doing this?" Hermione said. "Is he having a laugh? Because he's the only one!" She stomped off toward the common room.

"If you don't like it, you could just stop reading the letters," Harry called after her.

"He'll still think he's proved something!" Hermione bawled, throwing herself into the common room and nearly colliding with her nemesis.

"In a hurry, Granger?" he called lazily after her as she stormed across the common room and up the stairs.

"For your own health, you should probably leave her alone, Zabini," she heard Harry saying. "No, not because of me. Because Hermione may get tired of whatever you're playing at and then you're done for. Friendly warning."

Zabini said something Hermione couldn't hear but she forgot to wonder what as she came into her room.

"You should know," Pansy Parkinson said from where she sat at her vanity table in a towel with her wet hair piled on top of her head. "I went all the way to your bed and picked up that envelope three times but never actually opened it."

"That's big of you," Hermione growled, stomping across the room and snatching up the newest envelope from her pillow. She thought about throwing it into the fire but curiosity got the best of her. She tore it open and gave a shriek of outrage. Pansy forewent all pretext and threw herself across the room.

"They're just Charms notes," she said, eyebrows raised. "Granger, take a pill, my god."

"You don't understand!" Hermione wailed, only peripherally aware of who she was talking to. "They're not just Charms notes!" All up and down the margins of this missing page she had written Zabini must die! and I hate Zabini with a fiery burning rage and Zabini is the devil. Then she found his note and shrieked again.

On the third day of Christmas, Miss Granger said to me

You sexy beast, Blaise Zabini!

Empirical evidence: Irrational hatred is a sign of unbridled passion, Granger.

Hermione stuffed the whole mess under her pillow and collapsed backward onto her bed. "This is Christmas," she groaned, staring up at the canopy. "This is the first Christmas since first year I haven't been in or about to be in mortal peril. Why can't it be normal?"

Pansy snickered. "If I'd realized that all it took to drive you mental was writing love notes, I'd have been doing it all this time, Granger."

"You said you didn't read it!" she cried, sitting bolt upright.

"I didn't," Pansy said, smirking. "You just told me, though."



The next day, an owl dropped Hermione's envelope on her face, waking her from a nightmare about seaweed and antelope and Dobby being Harry's handmaid. She wasn't sure whether the letter or the dream was worse. In the envelope was a pair of her favorite cuddly socks that had gone missing two days before. She had thought she'd left them in the common room but had never found them. Now here they were with a note.

On the fourth day of Christmas, Miss Granger said to me

Pay attention to me, Zabini.

Empirical evidence: Leaving sexy underwear around for me is sweet, Granger, but next time I'd prefer a bra.

Hermione didn't have the energy to scream with rage. Instead, she threw the balled-up socks into a corner of the dorm room and went down to the common room. She curled up on the couch by the fire. She tried to conjure up irritation or loathing but mostly she was just tired. She stared into the cheerful firelight until her eyelids grew heavy. The next thing she knew, a blanket was being tucked under her chin. She snuggled down into the sofa with a sigh of contentment, already drifting back toward sleep. A hand ran across her hair. "Mmm," she said sleepily. The hand moved across her cheek and over her chin.

Something was plucked from her fingers. "Well, Granger," said a familiar voice. "If I'd known you were going to carry these notes around with you, I'd have put them in a book or something."

Hermione recognized the voice immediately but was too warm and comfortable and sleepy to get upset. "Go 'way, Zabini," she murmured, burrowing deeper into the blankets.

"Why can't you be all cuddly and relaxed all the time?" Zabini murmured back, tucking the note back into her hand. The sofa sagged a bit as he sat. "You're normally so scary."

"Thanks a lot," she said, her voice a little slurred.

"I like it, for some reason," Zabini said. He chuckled. "Go to sleep, Granger."

"No," she slurred obstinately.

"Please," he said, stroking his fingers across her face again. Hermione tried to object but then she was asleep. When she woke up, the common room was full of people coming down for breakfast. She blinked and found her head in Ron's lap and her feet in Harry's.

"Rough night?" Harry asked, patting her foot, which was covered with a sock, a slipper, and a blanket.

"Not exactly," Hermione said. Then she remembered her dream. "Oh, my god, Harry, I can't ever see Dobby again." She refused to say anymore, but lay back against Ron's leg, staring up at the ceiling.

"Reckon we should go to the Three Broomsticks today instead of the Hog's Head?" Ron said, toying with a lock of Hermione's hair. "I expect Madam Rosmerta's starting to miss me."

"And what were you dreaming about last night, Ronald?" Hermione said, stretching and enjoying the blush that splashed across her friend's face.

"Aren't you clever," he muttered, giving the lock of hair a tug.

"Ow!" Hermione sat up, almost hitting Ron's chin with her head. She thumped him on the shoulder and scooted toward Harry.

"Now, now, children," he said, grinning at Ron as he patted Hermione's head. Ron glared at him.

"I need to study," Hermione said, rubbing her head. "I don't know if I'll make it to Hogsmeade." She wasn't worried about N.E.W.T.s but she wasn't overconfident either.

"Go on, Hermione," Harry wheedled. "It'll be powdery snow and we can go sledding!"

Appealing to her weakness was unfair, Hermione thought. Harry knew how much she loved sledding.

"Fine," she grumbled. Harry and Ron cheered, then shoved her in the direction of the girls' dormitory to get dressed.

"What about breakfast?" she called down. She ducked a pillow from the couch and ran upstairs. When she returned fully dressed several minutes later, Ron and Harry were exactly where she'd left them, still in their pajamas. "What the hell?" she said, glaring at them.

"We thought if you were dressed you wouldn't change your mind," Harry explained. "Don't be cross with us, Hermione."

"But you make it so easy," she growled. "I'm going to get my breakfast."

She was out of the common room and heading for the Great Hall when she felt a presence beside her. "Boys a bit much for you this morning?"

"Go away!" she hissed, throwing a glare at Zabini. He was fully dressed and had a floppy red hat on his head.

"Granger, I think I've found enough evidence to prove you're mad for me," he said, tucking his hands into his robe pockets and grinning at her.

"You've got a long way to go," she said, tossing her head.

"Ooh, I love a challenge," he said, removing his hands from his pockets to rub them gleefully together.

Hermione groaned and didn't speak to him again all the way to the Great Hall. Zabini didn't seem to mind the silence; he kept pace with her, humming Christmas carols under his breath. Hermione had to bite her tongue twice to keep from telling him to shut up. At the eighth year table, set up so the house tables wouldn't overcrowd, Zabini went to sit with his friends. Hermione breathed a sigh of relief and fished a copy of the Daily Prophet out of her pocket to read. She enjoyed a few minutes of peace before Dean and Seamus arrived. No one had a normal meal when Dean and Seamus were at the table.

"Thanks, Hermione," Ron said as he slid in next to her and swiped the hot toast she had just buttered for herself.

"Oy!" she began but Harry had already replaced it with another.

"I thought we could go sledding on that hill near the Shrieking Shack," he said, buttering toast for himself. "That's a wicked hill."

Hermione glanced at him but he was busy making himself a plate and didn't look at her. "That sounds perfect," she said, thinking of the first time she'd been inside the Shrieking Shack. There she'd met Sirius and got to know Professor Lupin. She bit her lip.

"What about the hill down by the lake?" asked Ron, who was also looking at Harry.

"Shrieking Shack's fine," Harry murmured, taking a bite of toast. He smiled a bit. "Make people think we're brave and adventurous, you know."

"We are brave and adventurous," Hermione pointed out. "Where were you this time last year?"

"Don't remind me," Harry said. "No, really," he added with a look. "Mmm, toast," he said a moment later. Toast was the food Harry had missed most on their mission last year. It was hard to keep bread from molding so they'd not bothered about it.

They left the Great Hall soon after, hurrying down the front steps and into the snow. "This is perfect sledding snow," Ron said clinically. Somehow this winter he'd become a connoisseur of sledding.

"A few inches deeper would have been nice," Harry countered, leading the way along the side of the castle to the little nook where they stashed their sleds.

"It would be harder to make good tracks with more snow," Ron argued, pulling out his wooden sled and running a practiced hand over the metal runners along the bottom. Sledding, Hermione decided, was to Ron what Quidditch was to Harry. Hagrid had helped them make these sleds from scratch one day in early November. Hermione and Harry had enjoyed it but Ron had taken it on as an art form. He had, therefore, the nicest sled. Having the nicest of something, being the best at something, didn't happened often for Ron. Harry and Hermione didn't ruin it for him.

They pulled the sleds over their shoulders, using the twine harnesses Hagrid had helped them weave into the underside of each sled, and trooped down the hill toward the road to Hogsmeade. Quite a few students were headed to Hogsmeade since it was a Saturday.

When they reached the hill, the whole field down to the Shrieking Shack was deserted and pristine, untouched by animal or human. Ron immediately gave a whoop and Harry took off at a run, throwing himself onto his sled and rocketing down the hill. "Harry, you're ruining the snow!" Ron bellowed, charging after him. Hermione laughed, setting her sled down at the top of the hill and sitting on it. She loved watching them run around and wrestle with each other like normal teenage boys. She hadn't seen them do that for ages.

"Quite a mess they're making of that snow," Zabini said, sitting down on the other end of Hermione's sled without being invited.

"What are you doing here and why won't you go away?" Hermione demanded. She realized with alarm that his arrival hadn't even startled her. Like she was starting to expect him to turn up.

"I was curious what you lot were doing with these things," he said, patting the sled they both sat on. "I've seen you disappear with them before but I could never figure out what they were for." He smirked at her. "And obviously I won't go away, it would only upset you."

Hermione growled under her breath. "So," Zabini said, pretending not to notice. "Tell me about this thing we're sitting on."

... which was how Harry and Ron found Hermione, five minutes later, stretched out on the sled with Zabini looking on which she explained the finer points of coasting down a snow-covered hill.

"We're called The Trio for a reason," Ron grumbled as he and Harry, both covered in snow, crested the hill.

"I've got my own trio, thank you," Zabini said, giving Ron a look that was just shy of a sneer. "Granger, you haven't showed me how to sled yet."

Hermione gave an exasperated sigh. "Haven't you been listening the last five minutes?"

"You've told me. Show me."

"Hermione, you can't just let some Slytherin barge in on our sledding party – " Ron began indignantly.

"He's not a Slytherin," Hermione corrected. "Anyway," she added grouchily, although it didn't actually bother her at all, "if by sledding party you meant me sitting on this hill watching you and Harry wrestle." Ron scowled but mercifully kept quiet. "All right, Zabini," Hermione said. "Watch carefully." She positioned the sled over Harry's erratic track down the hill. She set her feet against the front bar and held onto the rope tied to the front. Bracing herself with one foot, she took the other off the sled and gave herself a push. The sled hung onto the top of the hill for a moment and then tipped over the side and rocked down the hill. Hermione gave a shriek of supreme delight as the sled streaked down the white hill. Her hat flew off and her hair billowed out behind her and she felt the icy breeze bite at her cheeks. She cackled and pulled the rope to avoid crashing into the Shrieking Shack.

The best part about this particular hill was that it was long and steep but had a nice flat run-off just passed the Shrieking Shack. She coast to a halt, giggling and with snow all over her. She'd be freezing in about twenty minutes.

She climbed off the sled, turned it around, and sat back down. Pulling out her wand, she whispered a spell. The sled propelled itself back up the hill, creating a new track for later use. "That's cheating, Granger!" Zabini called. He had the familiar half-smile on his face.

"There aren't any rules for sledding," Hermione said, rolling her eyes.

"That's new," he said. "Something you do that has no rules." Before she could reply, he tipped his hat in a sardonic salute and tramped off toward Hogsmeade.

"What the hell is he on about?" Ron demanded of Hermione.

"Oh, you think I know?" Hermione retorted, shrugging and still not mentioning the daily letters. Harry gave her a look and rolled his eyes.

It wasn't until the following evening that Hermione received the next envelope and realized she'd forgotten her hat at the Shrieking Shack. The envelope contained her hat and the usual note.

On the fifth day of Christmas, Miss Granger said to me

Ooooh, Zabini

Empirical evidence: Actually, I just wanted to return your hat. I couldn't think of anything especially clever this time.

Hermione gave a horrified yelp when she realized she was smiling.


She awoke the next morning to an envelope containing a howler of her voice telling Zabini how much she loathed him. Hermione's dorm room – indeed, the entire eighth year dormitory – awoke to that sound. Hermione had to blow the howler up with a spell to make it shut up. She was seething when she entered the common room. The accompanying note did nothing for her mood.

On the sixth day of Christmas, Miss Granger said to me

I hate you (but not really), Zabini

Empirical evidence: Your feelings for me are obviously a sore spot or you'd never spend so much time violently denying them.

She wanted very badly to hex him but since any response at all was playing right into his clever little game, Hermione was forced to completely ignore him, which went against every fiber of her active being. Harry offered to hex him for Hermione, which was sweet, but she told him no, on the grounds that Zabini would know it was from Hermione anyway.

She was prepared to burn the envelope that arrived the afternoon of the next day, just as she was settling down in the common room for a nice rest between classes. This package was lumpy and her curiosity got the best of her. When she unwrapped a lovely blue knitted scarf, she was deeply suspicious.

On the seventh day of Christmas, Miss Granger said to me

You're so clever, Mr. Zabini

Empirical evidence: No girl can resist a bloke who makes her gifts or knows what kinds of clothing she especially likes or what her favorite color is.

Hermione stared at the note, then the scarf. He couldn't possibly knit – it was a trick. House-elves, possibly? Then she noticed a post-script.

It really was me, Granger. Stop thinking I made the house-elves do it.

Absently, she ran her hands over the soft material. It was a long, wide cable-knit scarf, just the kind she loved. Dark blue was her favorite color. She scowled, unable to throw the scarf in the fire because she already loved it. Growling a little and realizing she had developed a twitchy eye, she wound the scarf around her neck and made a silent vow not to thank Zabini or acknowledge him in any way. She needn't have bothered.

"I knew you'd love it," he murmured as he passed her on his way into the common room.

"Hermione, your eye is twitching," Ron pointed out unhelpfully later that evening. "And where'd you get that scarf?"

All the next day, Hermione felt her muscles bunching and unbunching. After the scarf, she couldn't imagine what Zabini would come up with next. She was horrified when she realized she was waiting expectantly all day. She gave another thought to clubbing herself to death.

"Blaise, I can't believe you knit," Malfoy said loudly as Hermione went upstairs to bed. Malfoy's friends laughed and punched Zabini in the arm.

"I'm very talented and multi-faceted," Blaise said calmly. "The ladies all want me, Malfoy."

Hermione scowled, tugging off the scarf as soon as she was in her dormitory and throwing it into the corner with her socks. He was right – all the girls did seem to want him. Hermione had noticed that night at dinner how many girls sat around him at the table – not just former Slytherins, either. Not that she cared, of course. Maybe if he paid attention to the other girls, he'd leave her alone and forget about his stupid vendetta. After all, it wasn't Hermione he cared about so much as winning whatever one-sided contest he had invented for himself.

She saw the envelope on her pillow and, resisting an almost painful temptation, she tossed it into the drawer of her bedside table and pulled out her homework. She lasted an hour – her roommates came in and started getting ready for bed. Hermione had chewed the end of her quill to smithereens and her hair stood on end.

"That's a lovely scarf, Hermione," Hannah Abbot said, nodding to the neck-wear on the floor. "Did someone make it for you?"

"Umm – no, I bought it in London," she lied, feeling guilty and angry at the same time.

"Where?" Millicent Bulstrode wanted to know. She was visiting Pansy before bed. "Is it a Muggle thing? I want one."

Hermione buried her head under her pillow and refused to answer any more questions.

"You're so bloody weird, Granger," Pansy muttered as she crawled into bed. When her roommates had put out the lights, Hermione fished in her bedside table for the next envelope. She prayed it wasn't another howler as she slit the top with her thumb.

"Bet it's not as good as a scarf this time, Granger," Pansy called across the room.

"Shut up!" Hermione hissed. She stuck her hand in and pulled out a copy of Molds and Fungi: Potions Application, the book she and Zabini had fought over in the library. The note fell out of the cover.

On the eighth day of Christmas, Miss Granger said to me

Don't leave me, Blaise Zabini

Empirical evidence: Go on, Granger, even you couldn't care less about this stupid book. The only reason you wouldn't let me take it was because you didn't want me to leave.

Hermione flung the book onto the floor, reflecting that Madam Pince would have strangled her with her own intestines if she'd been there to see. "What the hell was that, Granger?" Pansy demanded.

"Nothing!" Hermione hissed. "Go get some beauty sleep!"

"Oh, you wound me," Pansy said with a smirk in her voice.


The following morning, Hermione had midterm exams in all her classes. She didn't mind like she used to and she was prepared for all of them. How she managed to focus with Blaise Zabini sitting right in front of her in almost every exam was a mystery but she did manage, reminding herself that beating him at exams was absolutely necessary. Serve him.

Ron and Harry arrived at dinner looking martyred.

"Of course, Hermione got perfect scores on all her exams," Ron said bitterly, as though she was doing it to spite him.

"I expect so," she said, spooning carrots and peas onto her plate.

"I expect so," Ron mimicked. Harry kicked him and Ron yelped.

"How about a kitchen raid tonight?" he suggested in a low voice. "Dobby turned up at lunch and just mentioned they were doing more gingerbread this afternoon."

"Sounds lovely," Hermione agreed, trying not to think about the handmaid dream. After all, being out of the common room meant being away from Zabini (she hoped). They were just finishing dessert when a large barn owl dropped an envelope into Hermione's pudding. It was just as well it had landed in the pudding and not on the table because Hermione found a large ceramic mug inside. Inside the mug was a little packet of Honeyduke's black forest cocoa and a little bottle of fire whiskey. Hermione tucked the whole thing quickly away into the envelope, ignoring Pansy's curious and not at all polite shouts down the table, and read the note.

On the ninth day of Christmas, Miss Granger said to me

I'll drown my sorrows, Blaise Zabini

Empirical evidence: Heavy drinking is a sign of love sickness. Don't pine for me, Granger, it's unnecessary and pathetic.

Hermione cast a cleaning spell on the envelope, got up, and left the Great Hall. Harry and Ron hurried after her in some confusion. When she reached the empty entrance hall, she gave a shriek of frustration that made both boys jump.

They convinced Hermione not to smash the mug or throw out the fire whiskey (I'll drink it if you won't, Harry had said). Instead, she stashed it in her desk drawer.

"It's not polite to smash Christmas presents," Harry told her, "until several months after Christmas." The eighth year dorms hadn't been warded to prevent boys entering girls' dorms so Harry and Ron sat on Hermione's bed while Hermione fumed.

"They're not presents!" she snapped.

"What are they, then?"

"Half of them are things that belong to me anyway!" she shouted. Ron leaned away, rubbing his ears.

"What about the scarf?" Harry said. "And the mug?"

"Two out of nine," Hermione retorted. "Mostly, he's stealing things from me and then sending them back."

"Who is it keeps sending this stuff?" Ron asked.

Hermione and Harry shared a look.

"What, Harry knows?" Ron snapped, leaping off the bed. "Oh, that's brilliant, that is!"

They took some time calming him down and convincing him they hadn't become a trio of two. Ron didn't need to be told but Hermione thought he looked reassured every time they told him how important he was to them. She supposed she couldn't blame him – it was always nice to be told you were loved.

"So then," he said when Hermione had confessed the saga to him. "Shall we beat him up for you?"

"No, no," Hermione said, sighing. "I've already been over this with Harry. If I do anything, he'll think I care."

"You obviously do," Harry began, rolling his eyes.

"I don't!" Hermione shrieked as Pansy Parkinson came through the door.

"Oh, obviously not," she said, smirking. "Jealous yet, Weasley?"

"Of what?" Ron said, looking confused.

"Another bloke sending Granger all those gifts," Pansy said, curling up on her bed with a massive book.

"Why would I be jealous?" Ron demanded, sounding a bit panicky.

"You wouldn't because you're sensible," Hermione jumped in, glowering at Pansy. "Come on, let's raid a kitchen."

"Bring me something back!" Pansy called.

"Oh, yes, your bloody highness," Hermione snapped on her way out. "A cask of dates, perhaps? A silver platter of cheese? Maybe a roast lamb?"

"Chocolate," Pansy said cheerfully and Hermione threw up her hands in disgust.

The house-elves sat the trio down at a scrubbed wooden table and Harry grinned. "Actually, we're going to do an art project. I fixed it with Dobby."

Before Ron and Hermione could inquire, Dobby appeared with several other elves, all bearing trays of different materials.

"Gingerbread houses?" Hermione breathed, clapping her hands. "Oh, Harry!"

"What's a gingerbread house?" Ron wanted to know.

An hour later, Harry and Hermione had finished their modest sugar-coated buildings and Ron was only one turret into a castle. "No, it's fine, go back without me," he said distractedly, tapping his chin with an unused candy cane.

Harry glanced at Hermione, rolled his eyes. "I'll help you out, mate," he said. "Otherwise you'll be here all night."

Ron grinned. "Thanks."

"I'm going to bed," Hermione announced. "Have fun."

"Oh, we will," Harry said, picking up a candy cane and tapping his chin in a droll imitation of Ron.

Hermione left them arguing about the advantages of motes and draw bridges.

"What kept you?" Zabini asked her when she stepped into the common room. It was dark outside the castle and the common room was empty but for them.

"Kept me from what?" Hermione demanded. "I was with Harry and Ron."

"What a new thing for you," Zabini said, clapping a shocked hand to his cheek. Hermione tried not to smile.

"What do you want, Zabini?" she asked, seating herself on the hearth and holding her cold hands up to the blaze.

"I don't want anything," he said.

Hermione rolled her eyes. "You asked what kept me and you're sitting around in an empty common room," she said. "Oh, and let's not forget that you've been bothering me with really annoying post all week."

"Do you mind it?" he said, getting up and moving to an armchair near her. "I thought some of it was rather nice."

He was so unfortunately clever, Hermione thought with unwilling admiration. Not many people could back her into logical corners. "Some of it was nice," she admitted, knowing that if she didn't she'd be insulting and if she did he'd be getting way more credit than she wanted to give him.

"Nice," he snorted.

"All right, it was good," she offered.

"Try brilliant," he corrected.

Hermione growled under breath.

"Don't use the sexy growl in public, Granger," he said, grinning.

Hermione glowered at him. "I loathe you."

"You do not," he said.

"Don't tell me how I feel!" Hermione snapped.

"Fine – you tell me."

Damn, he had her again. Hermione opened her mouth to tell him just what she thought. Then she paused. How did she feel about him? She wanted to loathe him – she wanted to hit him. But she didn't actually feel like doing either of those things.

"I thought so," he said, nodding in an infuriatingly assured way. He stood and stretched. Hermione caught herself looking much longer than she should have when his jumper rode up his stomach. She ripped her gaze away and thought about letting her hands burn in the fire in punishment. She was still staring at the fire when she felt the brush of lips against her hair. "Don't fight it, Granger," he said. "You've been fighting long enough. Some things were just meant to be."

"How do you know?" she asked. She meant to sound contemptuous but it came out more like a question.

"The same way you do, only I've moved beyond the denial." He grinned down at her, his teeth flashing in the firelight. "Don't be up late."

She sat staring into the flames and not really thinking of anything. She got up to let a snow-covered owl into the common room with another envelope. A cascade of hair elastics, all Christmas colored, fell out of the envelope along with the usual note.

On the tenth day of Christmas, Miss Granger said to me,

Snog me senseless, Blaise Zabini

Empirical evidence: You've been wearing your hair up all December. Clearly, you'd love a snog. No argument from me.

Hermione actually laughed. Then she sat back and chewed her lip, feeling troubled and giddy. Ron and Harry returned later with the droopy eyes of late-night architects. They hadn't brought the gingerbread wonder palace with them.

"Ron wanted to sleep with it on his bedside table," Harry said with a credible effort not to laugh. "But Dobby said we have to let them sit for two days so the icing will harden."

"Shut up!" Ron said, slugging Harry's shoulder. Harry bent down and kissed the crown of Hermione's hair. Ron sputtered (which Harry and Hermione ignored) and muttered a goodnight before following Harry up to the boys' dorms.


Hermione felt it was far too soon to admit defeat to Zabini so she stoically left the scarf in the corner of her dorm, the hair elastics on her night stand, and the mug with the chocolate on her desk. Maybe he was going to win this little game he was playing, maybe not. Hermione hadn't decided yet. When she saw him in the common room her way to breakfast, she gave him an appraising look and left it at that. He was, as usual, surrounded by girls from all four houses. He wasn't as popular as Neville, which irrationally pleased Hermione. She still didn't like to think that she was just another girl to him. But why should she be anything else?

The thought nagged at her during breakfast. After all, no one Hermione knew wanted to be just another someone – they wanted to be liked because of who they were. They wanted to stand out. Hermione had often wondered if she'd be more noticeable if she wasn't Harry Potter's best friend. She'd much rather have him as a friend than be a social butterfly but still ...

Having no classes and only a couple of days until Christmas, Hermione spent her time reading all the books she'd been given for her birthday. Right now, she was in a fit of classics-reading and was trying to tackle Tolstoy, Austen, and Conan Doyle at the same time. She also had a copy of C. Clement Moore's "Night Before Christmas" that she read once a day. It had a little note from her mad old grandmother who had given it to her as a warning, rather than an enjoyable Christmas fable, when she was five.

"That Santa is a thief!" she'd said, waving her cigar around and flourishing her spectacles.

Come to think of it, Gran might be a witch.

Hermione shook her head and went back to "Anna Karenina."

"What a bookworm you are."

Hermione glanced up. "Does that offend you?" she said coolly. "Or does it bother you that I'm smart?"

"I wouldn't say smart," Zabini said. He grinned when Hermione's face contorted in outrage and added quickly, "Obviously smart doesn't do your brain justice, Granger."

"Was that some sort of weird complement?" Hermione demanded, relaxing back in her armchair.

"Just another empirical observation," he said. "And what would I want with a girl who wasn't smart?"

Hermione eyebrows shot up. She knew boys. Zabini rolled his eyes. "Believe me, Granger, because I speak from personal experience. It's not worth bothering about a girl unless you mean it or you're in for a lifetime of hurt. Or," he amended, "constant irritation."

"So, what, you don't have flings?" she said slowly.

"Not anymore." Zabini shrugged. "A good day of snogging – even a week – isn't worth the nagging and gossiping and crying and moping when the girl suddenly realizes that's all you want."

"No one I know wants to just be someone's week-long, temporary, stand-in-until-something-better-turns-up snog," Hermione snapped, trying to go back to her book.

"Whoa, there." Zabini peered around her hair at her – she had deliberately worn it down. "What did I say?"

"I'm sure you heard yourself," Hermione muttered, trying to sink back into her book.

"No, I mean." Zabini frowned. "Usually you're just sort of contemptuous of everything I say. But that was, like ..." He paused again. "I hit a nerve."

"You're imagining things," Hermione told him. "As this whole ridiculous Christmas season has proven, you're delusional."

"I'm many things, but that's not one of them." Zabini hadn't taken his eyes off her face. "Out with it, Granger."

"You know what? No." Hermione stood, forcing Zabini to take a step back. She was unaccountably upset but more than that, she was tired of being pushed around by a bloke who was obviously just having a laugh. "I'm not a game, Zabini. I'm a girl." She stepped around him and walked up to her dorm. She felt Zabini's eyes on her back and for a moment, she wanted to run back down to the common room and shout, "Hahahaha! Just kidding!" But she didn't and she was glad of it a minute later. Zabini might like her or he might not – he wasn't going to tell her. Instead, he was going to pretend she liked him in hopes she'd say something first and make things easier if and when he chose to say something. But that wasn't Hermione's responsibility and if he really liked her, it was up to him to say something straightforward.

"I really wish you'd go back to being a know-it-all so I could hate you properly again," Pansy said as Hermione walked into their dorm and stretched out on her bed.

"Am I not anymore?" Hermione asked in surprise.

"Maybe a bit," Pansy said, scowling. "But you're a lot harder to mock now."

"Thanks," Hermione said, frowning. "I think." She glanced at Pansy and a crease formed between her eyebrows. "Parkinson ... are you reading Charles Dickens?"

"What?" Pansy said defensively. "Just because I don't broadcast it doesn't mean I don't like reading, Granger."

"Sorry, I just assumed," Hermione began. "What volume is that?"

"It's Bleak House," Pansy told her, showing her cover. "Actually, I loathe Dickens. Tale of Two Cities made me feel like digging my eyes out with a spork. And don't even start me on David Copperfield." She shuddered. "But Bleak House has all these incredible characters – no one's the star or anything – and they all connect somehow. It's really extraordinary." She scowled a little harder. "What? Stop looking at me."

"How the hell do you even know about Dickens?" Hermione demanded. Her brain wouldn't let her reconcile Pansy Parkinson and reading, though she realized how unfair of her that was.

"Pay attention, Granger," Pansy said, rolling her eyes. "Dickens was a half-blood wizard. He grew up in the Muggle world and went to a really shoddy wizard school in London. His only real talents were spelling quills to write for him and staying awake for a week at a time. Muggles loved his work – he wrote for magazines that paid for stories by the page so the more he wrote the more money he made."

"Wow," Hermione said, peripherally hoping she wasn't drooling.

"Um, yeah." Pansy grimaced. "Please go away and stop looking at me, Granger. It's freaking me out."

"Right," Hermione murmured, tearing herself away from literary wonder. "Right," she said again. She was just fighting the urge to ask Pansy what else she had read, when a tapping came on their window.

"Oh, charming, another missive from lover boy," Pansy said with a sneer.

"I think I'll ignore it," Hermione began, though she pitied the poor owl to whom the letter was attached.

"If you don't get it, I will," Pansy said, which had Hermione unlatching the window without any clear memory of getting off her bed and across the room.

Hermione hesitated. This envelope was lumpy, almost heavy. She tore it open and poured out a note, a photograph, and what looked like a kilo of almost-black chocolate. The chocolate smelled incredible and looked just like the hunk she'd been gnawing on in the Hog's Head. She hesitated before turning over the photograph and when she did, her heart gave a little flutter. The picture was of Hermione and Zabini. They were seated on the common room sofa by the fire, just watching each other. The picture didn't move, which surprised Hermione. She looked closer and recognized the intimacy of the photo. They weren't indecently close and they weren't touching. But something in their faces made it look as though they were sharing something.

After a moment's stunned silence, Hermione picked up the note.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, Miss Granger said to me,

Get a life, Blaise Zabini

Empirical evidence: Sometimes blokes like girls and push the girls too far. Chocolate and really nice photographs sometimes help fix things if the bloke's too daft to fix them himself.

Hermione sighed. Then she noticed breathing very close to her and looked up. Pansy was standing uncomfortably close and leaning over her.

"I don't suppose," she said slowly and with obvious restraint, "that you'd be willing to share that chocolate?"

Hermione actually laughed, a slightly wet sound as she suddenly felt her eyes well up. "Got a hammer and chisel, Parkinson?" she asked, staring at the mound of chocolate. "We're going to need it."


Christmas Eve morning saw a fall of fresh snow on the Hogwarts grounds. It glittered and threw off morning light in a blinding white glow. Hermione sat in the window of her dorm, staring out at it. Not even Hagrid's massive footprints marred the glittering snowfields yet.

Harry burst into the girls' dorm room.

Instead of shrieking with maidenly fright, the girls all shouted at him to stop racketing about so early in the morning.

"There's a reindeer in the common room!" he gasped.

"There's a what?" Hermione said, turning from the snowfields to stare at him.

"There's a reindeer," he repeated. "We think it's from Gryffindor but Malfoy reckons it might be Ravenclaw."

And so the Christmas inter-house pranking had begun. It had happened at and a little before Halloween as well, with different houses smuggling ridiculous things into each other's common rooms.

There was a moment's surprised silence, then a flurry of sheets and the girls all leapt out of bed and went to behold the wonder.

"It had to be Ravenclaw," Pansy said when they came skidding to a halt in the crowded common room. "Gryffindors aren't clever enough."

"You obviously haven't met Ginny," Hermione mumbled.

"I don't think it was Ginny, though," Harry said with a little smile. "She'd never have been able to keep it from me. You know how she is about secrets."

"Look, it's got a tag round its neck," Hannah Abbot pointed out. "Maybe it says who it's from."

"Yeah, but no one wants to go close enough to find out," Zabini said. He stood to one side with Malfoy and Nott, staring at the giant be-antlered beast who was standing in the center of the common room. Someone had used every chair and table in the room to make a little paddock for it, but Hermione assumed it would have no trouble escaping if it chose. Someone had also thoughtfully thrown a bale of hay in with it. Hermione assumed it had been one of the former Hufflepuffs.

Hermione rolled her eyes. "Accio collar," she said. Thanks to come careful forethought, the collar around the reindeer's neck unbuckled itself before sailing neatly into her outstretched hand. Anything less specific and the collar would have dragged the poor reindeer with it.

"You were right," Hermione said to Pansy. "It was Ravenclaw." The little note said, Cheers at Christmas, you eighth year delinquents. Love and kisses, the Eagles. The note was written in blue ink on gold parchment. "I suppose we should get Hagrid in here to move it outside," Hermione murmured.

"I'll go get him," Harry said, running back upstairs for his cloak and boots.

"Where are we supposed to sit while we wait for Potter?" Daphne Greengrass complained. Hermione rolled her eyes. So, to her mild surprise, did Pansy.

After helping arrange for another bale of hay, summoned by Neville from the shed by Hagrid's hut, everyone huddled up and tried to decide how to get Ravenclaw back.

"We can do anything since we don't have to worry about house points," Terry Boot said gleefully, rubbing his hands together.

"How do we top a reindeer, though?" Parvati murmured, shaking her head. "That's pretty clever."

"Plus, we have to get it in there," Malfoy said. "And most of the Ravenclaws will be in their common room now."

"So we'll do something at lunchtime," Ernie MacMillan said. "Who has ideas?"

"Turn their common room into a sea of Christmas pudding?" Susan Bones offered.

"Set Peeves loose with wizard crackers?" Nott suggested.

"Hide a wireless that plays nothing but 'Cauldron Full of Hot Strong Love' for hours on end?" Ron said, and several people snorted with laughter.

"Curse the entrance of their house so that everyone who walks through it winds up growing a Santa-like beard?" Hermione said off-handedly as she watched the reindeer.

"Really? You can do that?" Justin Finch-Fletchley asked, surprised.

"Oh, sure," Hermione said, shrugging. Then she frowned as she realized they were all staring at her. "What? It's just a simple spell."

"You could do it, though?" Malfoy asked slowly. "Curse their doorway?"

"Any of you could, too," she retorted. "Anyway, how would I get close enough to Ravenclaw to curse the entrance – "

"Not just the entrance," Lisa Turpin said. "What if we put the same charm on the boys' and girls' dorm staircase entrances, too? Something that makes their hair turn green or red or something like that?"

"We can use Harry's map of Hogwarts to do it," Ron said quickly. "And maybe the cloak."

"Ooh, and I know the password for this week!" SallyAnne Perks added. "I heard some of them say it at dinner last night."

Hermione groaned and went away to sit on the rug by to fire. She had no doubt she'd be the one to carry this out, while Neville, Malfoy, Lisa, and Justin planned the whole thing. Damn! She knew there was a reason she'd given up being a know-it-all. Or at least, she was trying harder to hide it from the world. But these people had known her for seven years – naturally they'd decide they liked it when it suited them.

"You've been drafted," Zabini said, grinning as he took a seat beside her.

"I noticed," she grumbled, opening a book she'd found on the rug. She wondered if it was Pansy's.

"Do you mind?"

Hermione sighed. "No. Remember, my best mates are lifelong pranksters."

Zabini chuckled. "You mean trouble magnets."

"Little of both."

They were silent for a moment. Hermione thought of the picture upstairs under her pillow and the chocolate (what was left of it) on her desk. She opened her mouth but Zabini beat her to it.

"It's Christmas Eve," he commented.

"It is," she said.

"The twelfth day," he went on.

She blushed but said, "That's true."

"So ..." he glanced at her. "Did I do it?"

"Convince me that I'm mad for you?" she said bluntly, in spite of the blush.

"No," he said, his lip curling in a slow smile. "Did I convince you you should be?"

Hermione stared at him. "But – "

He gave her a sympathetic look and patted her hand. "You're clever, Granger. You figure it out."

She glared at him.

"I got you something," he said.

"You got me more something?" she corrected.

"Yeah," he said. "It's the twelfth day of Christmas. Hate not to finish properly." He reached into the pocket of his robe and drew out a little parcel. Taped to it was a note.

Grinning in spite of herself, Hermione pulled the brown parchment paper off the little parcel. Inside was a leather-bound book and a lovely eagle feather quill. Hermione opened the book. Inside were blank pages of heavy parchment with gold leaf. In the upper corner of each was a space for the date.

She looked up, opened her mouth, and closed it again. Zabini tugged the note from the envelope and handed it to her. Silently, she opened it.

On the twelfth date of Christmas, Miss Granger said to me,

I'll humor you, Blaise Zabini

Empirical evidence: You've put up with me this long and I do get you excellent gifts.

Hermione laughed, running a hand over the beautiful journal. "What is it you want exactly?" she asked, raising an eyebrow.

"Haven't I spelled it out?" he demanded indignantly.

"You haven't told me," she began.

"I've been trying to show you," he cut in. "But as you insist ..." He reached into his pocket again and drew a out a little sprig of green. Raising an eyebrow back at her, he held the green sprig over his head and grinned the familiar half-grin at her.

Hermione laughed again.

"All right, Zabini," she said, leaning in. "You win."

Zabini grinned, still holding the mistletoe over his head. "Happy Christmas to me, happy Christmas to me ..."



Zabini's twelve days of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas, Miss Granger said to me,

I adore you, Blaise Zabini

On the second day of Christmas, Miss Granger said to me

You're so gorgeous, Blaise Zabini ...

On the third day of Christmas, Miss Granger said to me

You sexy beast, Blaise Zabini!

On the fourth day of Christmas, Miss Granger said to me

Pay attention to me, Zabini.

On the fifth day of Christmas, Miss Granger said to me

Ooooh, Zabini

On the sixth day of Christmas, Miss Granger said to me

I hate you (but not really), Zabini

On the seventh day of Christmas, Miss Granger said to me

You're so clever, Mr. Zabini

On the eighth day of Christmas, Miss Granger said to me

Don't leave me, Blaise Zabini

On the ninth day of Christmas, Miss Granger said to me

I'll drown my sorrows, Blaise Zabini

On the tenth day of Christmas, Miss Granger said to me,

Snog me senseless, Blaise Zabini

On the eleventh day of Christmas, Miss Granger said to me,

Get a life, Blaise Zabini

On the twelfth date of Christmas, Miss Granger said to me,

I'll humor you, Mr. Zabini