Title: Christmas Lights
Word Count: 2164
Prompt: Christmas Lights
Summary: The first Yule of Draco and Hermione's 'Happily Ever After' brings some minor bickering.
A/N: Fluff. Unapologetic fluff. But hey, it's Christmastime! This was great fun, though sticking to the world limit was tough.
The sound of a hammer drill unleashing hell on the roof directly above the Manor library caused all conversation in the room below to abruptly cease.
Hermione closed her eyes and counted to five. When she opened then again, her smile was brittle. "Excuse me for a moment, ladies," she said to her friends. She set down her sandwich plate on the table and marched out of the library.
Ginny Weasley settled her heavily pregnant frame further back into the armchair she occupied. Her tea cup and saucer balanced on her belly. "I'd hate to be Draco right now." After a moment's adjustment, she said to Luna, "Hand me that cushion would you? My back's killing me."
Luna did as requested. "Why would you hate to be Draco?" she asked, limpid blue eyes blinking in confusion. "Apart from the obvious difficulties you'd have giving birth, of course."
Ginny laughed. Her tea cup rattled in its saucer. "A pregnant Draco Malfoy? Hah! He wouldn't last a day with these swollen ankles. No, I'm referring to the fact that Hermione's about to throttle him."
"He's taking this Yule decoration task very seriously, isn't he?" Lavender remarked. This was a very tactful approach for Lavender and also something of an understatement.
"He's just about lost the plot!" Ginny said. "Did you see that barnyard display over the western wing? What in the world is that all about? I get the big, jolly, electronic St Nicholas, the reindeer, the snowmen and the whole Winter Wonderland setup he's got going, but I don't understand why there's an ass..."
"Whose ass?" Luna asked interestedly.
Lavender patted Luna on the hand. "She means donkey, dear."
"It's called a Nativity scene," Parvati threw in. "Because Jesus was born in a manger, where he was visited by three wise men bearing incense and essential oils."
"Essential oils and incense?" Lavender looked impressed. "How very New Age. Not very useful for a new baby, though, is it? You'd think they'd bring nappies and wipes. That sort of thing."
"But why," said Ginny, patiently, "is a Nativity scene on the roof top of Malfoy Manor. Does Draco strike you as the religious sort?"
There was some giggling. "No," Lavender replied. "But he's the sort to please Hermione, at little regard to cost, practicality, consumption of electricity and his personal safety, apparently."
"What exactly did Hermione say to him?"
Parvati spoke through a mouthful of crust-less, cucumber sandwiches. "She shed, and I quote: she mishus the Muggle Chrishmashes at her parenshe houshe. You know, with the lights and decorations and fake snow."
"Ah." Ginny nodded. She grinned when she heard the sound of distant bickering coming from the second floor. A door slammed and then the hammer drill came back on, with a vengeance, it seemed. "That explains everything."
The pounding on the roof woke her up.
Hermione rolled over in bed and fumbled around on her bedside table for her alarm clock. She sat up and pushed her hair out of her eyes to squint at the time.
It was just after four in the morning.
With a groan, she threw herself back against the mattress and shoved a pillow over her head. The pounding stopped. Hermione hopefully peeked from under the pillow, but then rolled her eyes when she heard an expletive ridden tirade drift down from the vicinity of the roof.
God damn it! Enough was enough! She got out of bed, pulled on the warmest, thickest items of clothing she could find. This consisted of a pair of ski boots, a beanie, a scarf and one of Draco's winter coats.
Then, she stalked off to locate her errant husband.
Draco wanted to kill the instructions.
He wished the instructions had feelings and self-esteem so he could yell at it and ridicule it until it lay in a soggy, weeping mess at the bottom of the stupid box the stupid lights had arrived in. All he could do was scowl at the feeble instructions and at the tangle of multicoloured lights and wonder, for the sixteenth time, what the hell 'insert Part A erstwhile revolving Part B into enslotment created previously in Step 6. Be sure to turn anticrockwise' meant.
He knew 'anticrockwise' was the opposite to what he could only assume was 'crockwise'. But what, in the name of all that was unholy, was an 'enslotment'? Were the manufacturers trying to make him crazy? He had only six days to install the last of the lights and turn on the power. There was no room for error or an exploded rooftop.
Suddenly, he sensed he was not alone. It wasn't an unsettling feeling. It was just the absence of solitude, which frankly was a nice change of pace. He turned to find his wife climbing out of the open, attic window.
Oh dear. He'd probably made too much noise with the hammer. She looked adorable, if a little lumpy in one of his great, black overcoats over her thermal pyjamas, topped with a Molly Weasley scarf, a beanie and...yes, those were apparently ear-muffs.
"Hermione, get back in the house before you freeze to death!" He had to shout over the wind.
The lady did not look pleased. She stomped over to him, or at least, attempted to. Draco had been using an adhesion charm on his shoes to avoid falling to his death (after a few close calls on the first day). Hermione had obviously not thought to do this. With a squeal, she skidded down the sloping roof and was caught by Draco around her waist.
For his trouble, he got smacked on the shoulder. "Malfoy! It's bloody four in the morning. I said one little line about missing the Christmases from my childhood and you take it upon yourself to build the North Pole on top of our roof!"
Her beanie had slipped over her eyes. Because she was still holding on to him tightly, he assisted by folding up the rim of her hat, so she could see. "I told you I was nearly done," he growled. "Just one more day-"
"That's what you said last week."
"Yes, but then we had that...incident."
"A few blown lightbulbs is an 'incident', Malfoy," Hermione corrected. "You set the roof over the eastern wing on fire."
"How was I to know about voltages and things?"
"Arthur Weasley offered to help, but you insisted on doing all this by yourself." She saw that he wasn't wearing a scarf, greatly disapproved of this and began winding hers around his neck. He didn't seem to notice.
"That's because it's my job to do it and maybe if you hadn't invited half of Hogwarts over for sodding Yule eve dinner, I wouldn't feel obliged to have the place looking perfect for you."
"Who said I wanted it perfect?"
"When do you ever settle for the substandard?" he countered hotly.
She stared at him, then. Good and long. Taking in his tall, lanky frame. His glacial, grey eyes in a fine featured face with its expressive mouth that was quick to smirk and, to Hermione's private joy, quick to smile at her with heart-pounding consequences. She thought of all the things they had overcome to be here and how much he meant to her. This would be their first Yule together as a married couple.
"I guess I don't settle," she said eventually, with a voice that was drenched with emotion.
Draco missed the soft look in her eyes because he was busy scowling at the electronic Santa that had just toppled over in the strong wind. He helped her up to the attic window and gave her a little nudge. "Go back inside. I'll be down shortly."
Hermione tried a different tactic. "Can you please come back to bed? I'm lonely."
Her beloved husband could be as dim as a fifteen-watt light bulb sometimes. "Crookshanks will be happy to keep you company."
She wanted to throw a snowball at him. She knew he thought he was being gracious and accommodating, given the fact he had previously barred Crookshanks from sleeping in their bed due to the cat's ability to shed like a polar bear in summer.
"Suffice to say this is not the type of lonely that my familiar can alleviate."
Ah. Now he was looking at her properly. She wished she wasn't wearing a shapeless coat and ear-muffs over too-big pyjamas that had seen better days a decade ago.
The corner of his mouth kicked up and he gave her an endearingly sheepish expression. "I see."
"Do you?" she said haughtily. "I wasn't sure if I had to draw a diagram or something."
"Merlin forbid it should ever to come to that," he drawled, so softly she almost didn't catch it over the howling wind. She watched him deftly gather the rope of tiny lights and shove the lot back into its box, tucking it under his arm.
When he next spoke, she felt her face grow hot. "Though if you did want to show me any diagrams that have caught your interest, I've been told I'm a quick study."
Draco joined her at the attic window and waited for her to climb in first. He followed and then, to her relief, set down the box of lights. Hermione took his hand and didn't let go until they were back in the darkness of their bedroom.
"Maybe there's a copy of the Kamasutra in the library?" she pondered.
He grimaced. "I hope not, because the only way it could have got there was if my father purchased it."
She stood obediently beside the bed as Draco helped her out of the coat and then slowly divested her of her other clothing. First, her pyjamas bottoms, which she stepped out of. This was followed by her pyjama top, after he spent entirely too long on each button. Next came the ear muffs, until Hermione was left standing in her underwear, socks and beanie. Against all logic and expectation, she actually felt sexy.
Draco's searing gaze never left her as he stripped off his own clothing with more haste and less reverence than he had shown with her. Hermione shivered when he pushed her back against their bed and crawled over her.
"I'm a bloody idiot for spending all that time on the roof, freezing my arse off when I could be enjoying our holidays," he said, in between hot, moist kisses laid along her throat.
"I know why you're doing it," she replied. "I just wish you'd let me help a bit more."
"But it's my jo-"
She put two fingers against his lips. "It's not your job. Making me happy isn't a job, it's what you already manage to do without trying."
He held her for a moment, his face buried in the warmth of her neck. "I love you."
"I know. And I'll take that over a thousand plastic Santas and a million kilometres of Christmas lights any day."
The guests gathered in the circular carriageway outside Malfoy Manor after a wonderful Yule eve dinner wherein no one was cursed or hexed or insulted too badly. There was one minor punch-up and this was only because Ron spilled scalding hot chocolate over Draco's lap.
"It was ruddy accident," he continued to insist to Ginny, who had overdosed on pudding and was being supported by a beaming Harry.
"So, are we going to see this legendary light show or what?" Harry asked. The other guests carried mugs of hot chocolate and in the case of Seamus Finnegan, a flask of whiskey.
Draco stood in the attic, with his hand poised over the main power switch. Hermione joined him upstairs, looking down from the window at their guests. She frowned. "Um. Maybe we should get them to stand a little further back. You know, in case there's another explosion?"
After a moment's pondering, Draco concurred.
"Harry!" Hermione called down. "Will you have everyone stand back a little, please!"
Harry did as requested, pleased to assist in this safety precaution, now that there was little hero-ing work left for him to do.
"Alright, ready?" Draco asked.
Hermione grinned at him. "Go on."
He hit the switch.
Years later, the one thing they would mainly recall was the fact that everyone was blinded for about ten seconds before their pupils adjusted to the shocking brightness. It was like looking into a stadium floodlight.
A bleary Seamus muttered, "Cor, is it daytime already?"
It had, perhaps, not been prudent to place the karate chopping, electronic Santa so near the Nativity scene because St Nick ended up toppling over the ass, which slid down the roof and narrowly missed concussing Ron.
"Like anyone would have noticed the difference," Draco was later heard to have said.
Over on the eastern side, the miniature 'elves workshop' was in full swing with three volunteer house elves pitching in for authenticity. They weren't very good singers, though. Luna pointed out that one was in fact a baritone. Sixty kilometres of coloured lights made the snow-covered rooftop look like an iced-cake with candy sprinkles.
As she squinted through her fingers and tried not to panic that all she was looking at was indistinct purple blobs in the phosphorescent brightness, Hermione shed a tear.
"It's beautiful," she gushed, slinging an arm around Draco, waist. "Happy Yule, Malfoy."
Her husband, cool as a cucumber and with characteristic Malfoy nonchalance, slipped on a pair of pitch-black, Raybans. "Happy Yule, Granger."