Hello all! Here's a little Christmas treat for you. Make sure to read "Christmas with the Malfoys" first!
Three little girls, one with red locks, one with blonde, one with black, gathered in front of the fire with blankets and stuffed animals in hand. It was Christmas Eve, and as legend would have it, a man in a red-and-white suit would soon be arriving with a bag full of presents just for them.
"Auntie Mione, read us a story," Lily Potter asked, green eyes big and imploring.
"Yeah, Auntie, the one about the fat guy in the sleigh," seconded Roxanne Weasley.
The third child, the oldest of the three, sat quietly with her hands folded in her lap, patiently awaiting the story.
Hermione Granger checked the clock once more; he should have been home hours ago. With a smile and a tray of hot chocolate, she settled down on the floor with the girls. "So, now what will we be reading?" she asked, looking to Victoire.
"The Night Before Christmas, of course," replied the proper little blonde.
The smile on Hermoine's face grew as she summoned the book from its place on the shelf. It had been her favorite story growing up; it was a Christmas Eve tradition that this book be read. The binding was tattered, the spine cracked, from years of use, but the leather still smelled new. Hermione, making sure everyone was settled, opened the book and began to read.
"'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there."
The front door was thrust open, whether by the opener or the force of the blustering wind, she didn't know.
"Uncle Draco!" Lily squealed, jumping up from her spot to hug him. There was no smile on his face or look of delight at the sight of the small girl he secretly liked best. His platinum blonde hair was matted and wet from the storm just outside the small cottage. The bow tie that accompanied his dress robes hung in two strands around his neck, and his walk implied aching feet. With one hand, he patted Lily's back before sending her to her place. With a look of contempt thrown to the brunette witch, he exited the sitting room.
"I'll be right back, girls," Hermione promised, setting the book down beside her. She found him on the bed, shoes off, foot in hand to massage out the cramp. He looked exhausted and miserable; a sure sign that the annual Malfoy family Christmas party was a success for everyone but Draco.
He looked up when she entered, his foot falling to the floor. He noticed the small smile she wore only for him; the smile that asked "talk to me". But Draco shook his head, blonde fringe brushing over his eyes.
Hermione nodded. "I've laid out your clothes for tomorrow evening," she told him, indicating the pile of fabric on the chair near their bed. Draco raised a rueful eyebrow when he caught sight of the sweater on top. It had been a gift from Mrs. Weasley the first time he spent Christmas at the Burrow. She'd charmed the trademark W into a M, and turned the yarn green.
"I'm not wearing that," he said defiantly. "And what was that rubbish you were reading to the girls? You shouldn't be filling their minds with nonsense about a Santa Claus."
Hermione sighed, crossing her arms over her chest. "We have this same discussion every year. And every year you sit and listen to the story, and the next day you wear that sweater to dinner. Could we, just this once, skip the argument?"
Draco picked up the sweater; his finger tracing the outline of the M. "Maybe she'll make me a new one this year," he mused, noticing places where the stitches had pulled.
With a smile, Hermione crossed the room to stand before the tall blonde. "Now, there's the Draco I know and love," she whispered, stretching on her toes to place a kiss on his lips. "Family time didn't go so well?"
Draco sighed. "I don't want to talk about it right now. Isn't there a book you should be reading to three little ones?"
"Will you come listen?" she asked, taking the sweater from his hands. "I'll make you hot chocolate," she added, hoping to entice him.
"Give me a few minutes. I need to get out of these clothes," he told her, kissing her forehead. "Marshmallows in my hot chocolate, please."
Hermione placed the sweater on the bed and turned to leave. Glancing back just once, she smiled and closed the door.
"Back to the story," Lily exclaimed when her aunt reentered the sitting room. "When does St. Nicholas come? Is he real, Auntie?"
Three sets of eyes fixed on her, awaiting an answer.
"Of course he's real," Draco answered for her, now dressed in pajamas. He took a seat next to Hermione on the floor, kissed her cheek, and beckoned Lily forward to sit on his lap. "But you have to have been a good girl all year to get presents from him. Have you, Miss Lily Luna, been a good girl all year?"
"Yes, Uncle Draco," she replied quite seriously. Victoire snorted, hoping no one heard it.
Draco began to tickle the little girl. "You wouldn't lie to your Uncle Draco, would you?" His gray eyes caught the part-Veela in her uncharacteristic moment.
Lily squealed as his fingers worked over her sides. "No, Uncle Draco," she replied between fits of laughter. "Please...stop." Draco ceased his ministrations, allowing the child to catch her breath.
Silence fell over the small group until Draco cleared his throat. "Well, Auntie Mione, I do believe you're supposed to be reading us a story. On with it!"
Hermione shot him a quick, scathing look before opening the book up once again. She continued to read, her eyes glancing from the pages to each girl from time to time. Lily fell asleep first, her little hands clutching Draco's shirt. Roxanne and Victoire, eyes heavy with the urge to sleep, willed themselves to stay awake for the end of the story.
"'But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight, 'Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night.'" Hermione closed the book silently, placing it beside her.
"Good story," Draco whispered, shifting Lily in his arms so he could stand. He glanced down at Roxanne and Victoire. "You girls can go to sleep now." Both girls curled up under their blankets as Draco carefully placed Lily on the couch, and covered her with her blanket. With a flick of his wand, the fire lowered, casting a small shadow on the walls.
"It's nice having them here," Hermione said once they reached their bedroom. Draco flopped onto the bed, relishing the soft comfort beneath him. He grunted in agreement, but said nothing further as his eyes drifted shut. She joined him, feeling his arm wrap around her shoulders as she snuggled into his side. "How was the party?"
Draco pulled away, rolling over so his backside faced her. "I don't feel like talking about it," he mumbled.
Playfully, she tugged at his arm. "I have ways of making you talk, Mr. Malfoy," she murmured coyly in his ear. Again, he pulled away from her, tucking his arms tightly against his body.
"I'm not talking about this now," he reiterated. "There are children in the house. They don't need to hear us fight. Just sleep, Hermione."
"I'm sorry, Draco," she whispered, giving his upper arm a squeeze she hoped he'd see as comforting. Rolling over so her backside was to his, the young witch closed her eyes, willing sleep to overtake her. The mattress was disrupted as Draco rolled over, his arm encircling her waist. He pressed a kiss just behind her ear before he spoke.
"I'm the one who should be sorry. I don't do well with family, but I shouldn't take that out on you."
Hermione rolled over in his arms. "Will you tell me just a little bit about what happened?" she implored, pushing strands of blonde hair away from his deep gray eyes.
His head hung, resting against hers. With a heavy sigh he told her. "I showed them your gift. Long story short, my father isn't too happy."
"What could you possibly have gotten me that would upset him so much?" Hermione mused, hoping he'd tell her without making her wait until the next morning.
Draco smiled, not the smirk she was used to seeing, but a real, genuine, teeth-showing smile. "You thought I'd fall for that?" he asked incredulously. "I'm a Slytherin. I'm far more clever and cunning than that, Gryffindor. You insult me with such a weak attempt."
She rolled them over so she lay atop his chest. "Draco," she said sweetly, placing a kiss on his lips. "Tell me what I have to do to find out what this horrible gift is that has brought such shame to the Malfoy family."
Leaning up, his lips were millimeters away. His breath danced across the soft flesh as he spoke. "All you have to do," he said, moving closer without touching her, "is wait for tomorrow morning." With that, he rolled her over to her side of the bed.
Silence filled the bedroom, the sounds of slow breathing the only noise. "Why'd you pick me?" Draco suddenly wondered aloud. The question had come up before, but it had been awhile since it was asked.
Hermione rolled back over to face him. "Do you just like hearing me say all the things that are great about you?" she teased. But the solemn look on her boyfriend's face told her he wasn't looking for an ego boost. "Sweetheart, what's bothering you?"
"I was just wondering," he mumbled. "It...we happened so fast. Sometimes I just wonder, that night you said you wanted me for Christmas, why?"
With a slow exhale, Hermione sat up. "That day when you asked me to go to your family's house, I thought it would be...well, sort of exactly the way it was. I thought 'Draco is a jerk, and I'll see exactly why that is when I get there.' But you were different there, in that house, with your parents around. For the first time in those seven years I'd known you, you weren't bratty, spoiled, arrogant Draco Malfoy. You were someone completely different, someone who'd been born into a life that no one deserved."
"So, you picked me because you pitied me and my horrible familial situation?" Draco asked tersely, regretting having asked in the first place.
"Draco, no," she countered. "I've never pitied you. I just saw a different side of you, that's all. I'd always hoped that you weren't really the way you were at school, and I was right. And I liked what I saw in you. You were vulnerable, for the first time. That wall you built up, that pureblood, I'm-better-than-you wall, it came down."
Draco smiled thoughtfully. "Seems like some pretty decent reasoning."
"Why did you pick me?" she asked. "Was it just to annoy your parents?"
"At first it was," Draco said. "I thought it would get me out of the party. You weren't such a bad date though. But I guess I knew I picked the right date when you yanked my hair under the mistletoe. Although, I am fairly certain I can't grow hair in that spot anymore."
The witch guffawed, swatting at the arm closest to her. "You're too proud to ever let yourself go bald. Your hair may fear the Draco wrath should it decide to abandon you."
The sigh he released was one of agreement as the couple slipped into a peaceful silence. No sounds were made, no words uttered; Draco assumed she'd fallen asleep. He, too, would soon be joining her slumber.
"So, what's my gift?" Hermione asked, shattering the quiet.
Draco groaned. He turned onto his side, his arm falling carefully over her waist. With a stroke of his other hand to her cheek, he whispered, "Go to sleep, Granger," before rolling over once again with his backside to her.
But in the darkness, Draco Malfoy smiled. Tomorrow everything would change. Tomorrow his world would be different.
Morning dawned and snow fell as three little girls silently crept into the master bedroom. The curtains were drawn; the room cast in total darkness except the thin rays from just outside the door. The redhaired girl was the first one through, followed closely by an excited girl with dark hair, and lastly a begrudging blonde.
"This is a terrible idea," Victoire whispered harshly.
"But it's Christmas," Lily replied, moving around the queen size bed to stand by her uncle. She poked his arm once, and receiving no reaction, climbed onto the large bed to pinch his nose. Draco snorted, but didn't wake. Lily's brows furrowed knowing that it worked on her father and should have worked on her uncle. "Uncle Draco," she murmured in a sing-song voice, repeating it until his eyes fluttered and his arms wound around the small girl.
"You dare wake your favorite uncle?" Draco grumbled as his eyes opened on the giggling girl.
"Yes," she replied, laughing harder as he sat up and placed a sloppy kiss on her rosy cheek. "Are we going to Grandma's soon?"
Draco glanced to his left to see Hermione still fast asleep. He had always admired her ability to sleep through noise, having spent years summering at the Burrow with the Weasley family. "Roxy, why don't you wake up Aunt Hermione," he suggested. After all, she deserved it as it was her idea to play babysitter to these three girls each year.
"No, it can't be morning," she groaned, her voice muffled by her pillow, as Roxie shook her arm.
"But Aunt Mione, it's Christmas morning," Roxy replied with a voice full of glee.
"And it's time to go to Grandma's house," Lily added, still seated in Draco's lap as he sat up. She shot Victoire a look to help them, but the oldest girl remained a foot away from the bed, standing quietly. The little redhead didn't turn back to her aunt until she heard the rustle of the blankets that indicated she was now fully awake and sitting up.
"Go get yourselves dressed and ready to go to Grandma's," Draco instructed, swinging Lily off of his lap so she could climb down. He was silent until the three girls left the room, closing the door behind them. "We should really get out of bed," he told Hermione, sliding back down until his head rested on the pillow. Tugging on her arm, he managed to pull her into his side and kissed her forehead.
"What happened to getting ready to go?" she inquired, cuddling closer to her boyfriend.
Draco shrugged and produced a small smile. "I just wanted to hold you a little bit longer. While it's quiet and we can be alone." He kissed her softly, receiving a wide smile when he pulled away.
"Are you giving me my gift now?" she asked, her smile growing as he kissed her again.
He shook his head and rolled over to get out of bed. Quietly, he gathered up his outfit for the day and walked to the bathroom. When he returned she and the three girls were waiting for him in the sitting room.
"Finally," Roxy muttered. "Can we go now?"
Hermione stepped over to the fireplace and grabbed the pot of floo powder, holding it out for each girl to take a handful. Lily was stationed protectively Draco's arms as he stepped in last, calling out "The Burrow" as clearly as he could. They stepped out of the hearth and into the sitting room of the Weasley family home. The small room was crammed full of people, taking up any inch of space they could. The three girls ran to their parents and siblings, leaving Hermione and Draco on their own.
"It's getting a bit warm in here," Draco observed. Hermione produced a small "hmm" in agreement, but kept her focus on the family. He leaned in closer so only she could hear his whispered suggestion, "Come outside with me."
Hermione looked at him hesitantly, but accepted his hand. Snow covered the ground and icicles hung overhead. The Christmas day air was windy and cold, and even Draco's arm around her shoulders did nothing to stop the chill.
"What are we doing out here?" she wondered, cuddling closer to Draco.
He shrugged carelessly. "I told you it was too warm in there," he responded.
"So you thought sub zero weather was the right alternative?" Her teeth chattered as snow continued to fall around them, clinging to their hair and sweaters.
Draco pulled his arm away from her and took her hands, turning her towards him. "I just...I thought after that first time you brought me here, that this would be the right place to do this," he said putting much thought and care into his words. He looked down at the snowy ground as if debating his next move. He pulled one hand away from hers and slipped it into his pocket. He bent at the right knee, then the left, before deciding against it. "Hermione Granger, I love you, more than I've ever loved anyone. Before you, I'm pretty sure I had no idea how to do that, and I want you around for the rest of my life to remind me how to do it."
"Oh my gosh," she murmured as she caught onto his plan.
He smiled at her as he pulled the small velvet box out of his pocket. "Hermione, love, will you marry me?"
Hermione gasped as tears began to blur her vision. "Yes, Draco, yes of course," she exclaimed, throwing her arms around his neck. Draco pressed his lips to hers, showing her just how ecstatic he was by her answer. "May I have the ring now?" she asked when he pulled away. Gladly, he slipped the diamond ring on her finger.
"Let's go back inside now," he suggested.
Hermione turned to the door to see the Weasley family crowded around the windows, spying on the newly engaged pair. "I think they already know," she murmured, kissing him once more. "But yes, let's get inside where it's warm."
Draco slipped his arm around her shoulders and led her back into the house. "You know, this sweater isn't so bad anymore," he mused, plucking it away from his stomach. "Thank you for bringing me here five years ago."
"You're more than welcome," she replied.