All characters belong to JK Rowlings...but I would also like to thank Dr Seuss for inspiration, but of course!
Draco Malfoy was filled with glee. Glee, glee, glee, glee, glee, glee, glee! It wasn't Christmas induced glee, but EVIL induced glee. In his evil glee-induced haze, he even rubbed his hands together, 'gleefully', or rather, 'evilly', and snickered. He looked down at Draco Malfoy 'The Second', his large white Siamese, as they stood on their side of the fence that separated his back garden from Hermione's and said, "I can't wait for her to come home tonight and see what's left of her Christmas!"
He snickered some more, did a little dance, and said, "And when she finds out that none of her little friends are coming to her little Christmas Eve party, she'll cry fat old tears, boo-hoo, hoo, hoo!" He picked up his kitty, to give him an evil squeeze, but the large white cat hissed at Draco for the first time ever, so Draco dropped the ugly beast and hissed back at him.
"Fine, you ingrate!" he spat, "see if I ever include you in my evil plans again!" Draco walked back over to the fence and climbed up on a bench that was beside it so that he could stare inside her mostly dark house. The invitation to her party said to arrive at 7:00 pm. It was still only shortly after 6:00. Draco had no clue where she might be, because he figured she would be home, finishing last minute details, but the fact that she wasn't home meant that his plans would go that much smoother.
All last night, after he left her house, he tried to think of ways to ruin her Christmas, since in his mind, she had ruined his. Really, she hadn't ruined his as much as she had made him look forward to it for the first time in his life only to pull the rug out from under him by telling him…'you aren't any more important than the rest of my friends' when the truth was Draco Malfoy was the most important person in Draco Malfoy's world, so he rightfully should be the most important person in HER world as well.
Because truth be known, Hermione Granger had become one of the most important people in Draco Malfoy's life, although he would make her rue the day that happened.
Therefore, last night, instead of sleeping, he formulated a plan, inspired by that little Dr. Suess story she forced him to watch. Just like the Grinch, he would ruin Christmas for her and her friends, but unlike that weird fuzzy, green fellow, he wouldn't reconsider and return all the Christmas finery to them later. NO! He wouldn't! His heart wouldn't feel remorseful, or be filled with regret, and most of all, his heart wouldn't grow larger, besides, Draco was almost certain that if that happened in true life that would be unhealthy, and cause for concern.
The first part of plan was to get rid of Granger for a while. That was easy. He sent a fake Owl to her, supposedly from her stupid employer, telling her that she was needed for an emergency meeting. He knew she took her job seriously, so even though it was Christmas Eve, and she had a big party to plan, with loads of people coming, she would go into work, even if it were only for a meeting.
Of course, once she got to St. Mungo's she would discover there was no meeting, but that didn't matter. Draco didn't need much time to ruin Christmas.
The second party of his plan was so easy a child could have doneit. He didn't know who was invited to her party. He had no clue how many invitations went out, so for a moment he ruminated on how in the world he could keep the revelers from coming to her house. Then he got an idea, a perfectly dastardly idea. He laughed so hard when he thought of it, he almost snorted.
Since a common wall connected his house to hers, it essentially made it 'part' of his house, so he put a Fidelus Charm on his house, making only him and Hermione, (although unbeknownst to her), Secret Keepers. When her little friends showed up tonight for her party, they would search high and low for her house, and even if they had been there before, they wouldn't be able to find it, because Draco hadn't given them permission to enter.
He only wished he could have a camera to take pictures of all of the little fools wandering around outside, looking for a house that was right in front of their noses! Oh, wouldn't Granger be so sad when no one showed up to her party!
At first, that was all he was going to do, but then he remembered how much fun the old Grinchy had when he was annihilating the little 'Who's' houses. Frankly, Draco was so sexually frustrated that he would find it both a 'comfort' and a 'joy' to destroy every last piece of tinsel and ivy inside her house, and outside as well.
Staring at her house from his perch on the bench by their back fence, he ascertained that she was still away at her 'fake' meeting, so he Apparated to her back Garden and easily opened her back door with a simple "Alohamora" spell. Didn't the woman believe in wards? Didn't she know she had evil neighbors running amuck, with plans to ruin her Christmas?
He walked into her backdoor and looked around her kitchen. She had a turkey in the oven, and pots with all sorts of food on the stove. Everything smelled heavenly. She even made his favourite dish…candied yams, the little witch. The first thing he did was blast each pot and pan to smithereens! He opened the oven, used his wand to levitate the turkey right out the backdoor, over the fence, and shouted, "Hey, Second, come get your dinner, you mangy cat!"
After the dinner was obliterated, including two pies and the rest of the holiday biscuits, Draco walked into the dining room. There was holly, berries, and an elaborate centerpiece on the sideboard, with a bottle of wine chilling in a cooler beside it. Oddly enough, the table, with candles, white linens, and springs of greenery, was only set for two. Draco didn't give that a thought as he swished his wand this way and that and destroyed the beautifully set table.
Next, he walked down the hallway to the living room. The first thing he saw was a tiny sprig of mistletoe hanging over his head. He growled, grabbed it, and stuffed it in his pocket, imaging another man kissing HER on her red, full lips, with her soft, brown curls caught in another man's fingers, and the press of another man's body against those soft curves of hers. Frowning, he stepped the rest of the way down into the elaborately decorated living room.
Her tree was lit up like a Roman candle and under her tree was at least twenty presents. "Humph! Looks like someone was nice and not naughty this year!" he snapped to himself. "All I wanted for Christmas this year was her!" he admitted aloud, "and I got nothing, and look at all the things she got!"
Before tackling the presents, he used his wand to destroy her tree. Pointing at different ornament, he smashed them to pieces even as he would say, "Aren't you the little glass bulb she said her parents got for their twentieth anniversary?" Destroying another, he would say, "You're the stupid one she made when she was eight!" He did that with them all, recalling things she said as they decorated her tree. By the end, he didn't feel as happy as he thought he would. Instead, he felt slightly overwhelmed and dare he think it, a bit ashamed.
He kicked a rather large present, not even bothering to see who it was from or to, and said, "Someone's mummy and daddy must love her a lot. Look at all these presents! My parents cannot even be bothered to send me anything personal! Every Christmas I get a big fat transfer to my vault at Gringotts. How cozy is that?"
He kicked a few other presents, before eradicating them with a swish of his wand. They disappeared in a puff of smoke, but he left behind the trappings…the ribbons, the bows, the wrappings, the papers and strings. He did this to make it look as if some random Muggle had broken in and ruined her Christmas. He didn't want her to know it was he…even though that was his original intent. Suddenly, he didn't want her to know he was hateful and small minded enough, let alone immature or evil enough, to do this to her.
Even though apparently, he was, because he did.
Why not? Wasn't that rather the point?
He sighed. Suddenly, he wasn't having the fun he thought he would have. He looked at her stocking over the fireplace and cocked his head to the side, opened his mouth, and turned his head slightly when he noticed a second stocking next to hers. Rather loudly, he said, "OH SHITE!" Next to her stocking was one with his name upon it.
He walked up to the stocking and pulled it down from the mantel to examine it. Etched in gold thread was his name. When had she put this here? It wasn't here last night, when they made biscuits together. He thought back to the dining room – two place settings – only two, with two wine glasses, two plates, two salad bowls. He swallowed hard and turned around to survey the room.
A foreign feeling washed over him, along with a heavy, crushing feeling in his chest. He kicked at some of the ruined wrapping paper on the floor and looked closely at the name on a partially ripped tag. He bent down, picked it up, and blinked twice before he read the tag aloud. "To Draco, Love Hermione. Happy Christmas."
"To Draco, Love Hermione?" he asked himself in a whisper and then louder than before he said, "OH SHITE!"
He dropped the tag to the floor and looked at the ruined room around him and for the very first time in his life, Draco Malfoy felt remorse. He felt mortified. He felt…well, he felt. Unlike the Grinch, whose heart grew larger, Draco's heart was shriveling up in his chest and was on the brink of disappearing completely.
Draco sat down among the mess of her living room and he felt overwhelmed, ashamed, sad, remorseful, guilty, angry, embarrassed, but most of all, he felt like crying. The last time he cried was…well, last night, when he thought he was falling in love with someone who didn't love him.
Yes, after he left her house last night, Draco Malfoy, the former Death Eater, the man who forever acted as if he felt nothing, cried. When he was all alone in his house, he cried, because he knew he had fallen in love with Hermione Granger, and he assumed that she didn't love him in return, (that she COULD'NT love him in return) because he wasn't worth loving, he wasn't loveable, and he wasn't a man of worth, and he didn't know what to do about it. In addition, he knew he would probably do something to ruin it…to make her hate him…and he had.
He heard her at her front door and he froze in fear and anguish, then he did what he always did best. He ran. He Disapparated away, rather than face her, rather than face what he had done.
Once inside his house, the feelings of sorrow and guilt were so prevailing and crushing that they washed over him like a steamroller, and in a sense of panic, he ran from room to room, hands over his face, tears in his eyes, calling himself every bad name he could think of, and yet nothing made him feel better. Nothing made it right.
He looked at his own tree – the tree she gave him, and he pulled out his wand to destroy it too, but he couldn't. His hand shook, and then his whole body joined in, before he crumbled to the floor. He couldn't do it. He couldn't destroy it, because he had to give it to her. He had to. He had to give her back her Christmas, somehow.
Eyes closed, sitting on his floor, tears at the ready, Number Two rubbing against his arm, Draco rocked back and forth. He could only imagine the horror she was seeing at that moment. She must have already discovered that her precious ornaments were broken and destroyed, that her tree was nothing short of kindling and that her presents were akin to a pile of rubbish. Perhaps she hadn't yet walked into her dining room or kitchen, but soon she would. She would discover that her hard work was for not, that her Christmas feast was gone.
He stopped rocking, and caught his breath, stopped the sob that was wretched in his throat, to stop to listen if he could hear her cries. If she cried, he might die, he might truly, truly die. He looked down at his cat and said, "Please, don't let her cry. Anything but that. I'll make it all up to her. I swear it. I'll be a bloody better person, somehow, but just don't let her cry!"
He crawled over to his foyer, to the shared wall, and pressed his ear upon it, to listen. He didn't hear tears. He heard something else, entirely. He heard singing. He heard Christmas music. He heard a Christmas song. He hadn't ruined her Christmas after all. He had wanted to at first, but he hadn't, and he was glad.
He used his wand to say a spell so that he could hear better, and he listened closer.
He heard a lilting voice, but he wasn't sure it was she, but the singing was beautiful, as was the song and the sentiment.
"…you can count on me…please have snow, and mistletoe, and presents on the tree. Christmas Eve will find me, where the love light gleams, I'll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams."
Draco felt something wet hit his hand. It was a tear. From him. He wiped it away and stood up. He looked down at his kitty and pronounced, "I'll be back after I apologize to Granger, if she doesn't kill me, but chances are that she will. If she does, have a Happy Christmas, Draco Malfoy the Second."
Pocketing his wand, he walked out his door, over to hers, and knocked. She opened it after a moment. He could tell that she had been crying, because her eyes were red and she had wiped a tear away just as she opened the door. He blinked away the last of his own tears, but before he could say a thing to her, she fell into his arms.
"Oh, Draco, it's so terrible!" She began to cry in earnest.
"I know. I know," he agreed. He patted her back, standing in her doorway. He couldn't make out a thing in the dark room in front of them, but he could still hear the music from before. He had assumed the singing was from her, because it sounded like her voice, but apparently, it wasn't.
She took his hand, and pulled him into the room, leading him around broken bulbs, destroyed boxes, and bits and pieces of decorations everywhere. He didn't know what to say, but before he could say a thing, she led him to the couch, sat down, pulled him down to sit beside her, and then she lifted a remote control and leveled it toward a television on the wall. She turned up the volume, but didn't say a word.
Staring at the screen, she began to cry again. She kept his arm in her hands, holding on for dear life, and she even placed her head upon his shoulder. He stared at the scene on the telly and finally figured out that they were watching one of those Muggle DVD movies or something.
Wait…it wasn't a DVD. It was Granger…she was on that screen, and so was a woman who looked an awful lot like her and a man, whom called the Hermione on the screen 'pumpkin'. Draco watched the screen, and then turned to look back at her, before he once again looked at the screen.
The picture before him was of Hermione, looking much as she looked now, and she was singing and playing the piano. Her voice sounded glorious. It was clear, vibrant, and full of promise. A man and woman stood around the piano and they beamed at her with pride and love in their eyes.
Draco and Hermione continued to watch the scene on the television in companion silence, save for an occasion hiccup of sobs from her, and a deep sigh from him. They were watching a Christmas Eve celebration, an intimate familial moment, between her and her parents. Draco watched in rapt silence as her parents and her opened presents, joked, laughed, sang, drank eggnog, and recounted stories of Christmases long ago.
When the screen went blank, she leveled the remote toward the flat screen and hit the off bottom. Cuddling closer to him on the couch, amongst the ruined remains of her Christmas, she said, "That was the last Christmas we had together. It was last year. Mum died this past March. She was already very sick at Christmas, with breast cancer. My dad died right before I moved here, last summer, a few months after Mum. It was quite suddenly, a heart attack."
Draco's heart broke completely with a final thud and he knew if he opened his mouth, he would cry right along with her. She looked up at him and said, "That's why this Christmas was so hard for me. That's why I didn't want to be alone this year, and why it was so important for me to try to include you in all my plans. Remember when I told you that it was my first Christmas without them…my first Christmas alone?"
Draco's mind went back to the conversation they had when she first mentioned Christmas, the day she wore the pretty red hat and scarf, and he barely paid any attention to her conversation, yet now that he thought of it, yes…he remembered her mentioning it. He looked down at her, saw her eyes full of tears, cupped her face with his hand, and with his thumb, he brushed away a few tears.
"I'm sorry," he said. And he meant it.
"Why, Draco? Why?" she asked him.
What could he say? He framed her face with his other hand and said, "I've been alone, in many ways, for most of my life. My exile was self-imposed. I've been afraid to let anyone close. I've been afraid of rejection. I've acted haughty and superior, when in reality I've always felt the complete opposite."
She turned on the couch slightly, to face him. She placed her hands on his wrists, as he slipped his hands from her face, to her neck, to her shoulders. "I've always acted as if I'm better than you and your kind, Granger, but in that little hollow place in my chest where most people have a heart, I've always known, secretly, that you're better than me. You are. You have a soul. You have a heart that's capable of loving, and forgiving, and growing and giving."
She reached up and stroked his face, slowly with one finger, then cupped his cheek. He closed her eyes, and let her warmth give him courage to continue. "I've been cold so long. I've played the part of the spoiled brat, the bad seed, the man without feeling, because that's comes easily for me. I don't know how to be the good man. I don't know how to feel joy and happiness, because frankly, those feelings are foreign to me."
Suddenly overwhelmed again, he grabbed her wrists and pulled her to him, crushing her to his chest. His arms went around her and he said, "I wanted it to just be you and me for Christmas, but somehow, I thought you wouldn't want that, and I assumed you were having all your friends about, not just me, and that hurt me. I thought my feelings for you were one sided, so I was going to hurt you before you hurt me."
He stroked her hair, as she rested her cheek against his chest. Finally, she spoke. "Did it make you feel better to destroy my things?"
"No, not at all. Well…in the beginning, I felt a certain sort of evil glee, but it disappeared fairly early in the game." He gazed down at her and smiled. She smiled back up at him.
Taking his hand into hers, she leaned back against the couch, and studied his palm before kissing the center. He felt that one action absolved him of all his sins. "This wasn't easy for me, either. I didn't know if you would accept me," she began. "You've always acted so hateful toward me, and you've made your feelings toward Mudbloods very clear."
He opened his mouth to protest, especially the use of that word, but she hushed him and continued. "No, let me finish," she chastised, placing one finger on his lips. He brought his hand up to hers, kissed that finger, and then held onto her hand. Smiling, she continued, "I knew I had to act brazen, and ignore your initial complaints, and I told myself that even if he insist until Christmas Eve that he hates Christmas, keep muddling through, Hermione, because he's worth it. Make him see that he's worth it. You are, you know, Draco. You're worth it."
"I'm not, though," he protested, dropping her hand, standing, and looking around the room. "Look at what I've done. I've ruined Christmas!"
She stood as well, and with a rather dour smile she said, "Yes, you're the Malfoy who stole Christmas, but that's okay, because I can put everything to rights, if you want me to, that is. I don't want to be alone this Christmas, Draco, but I also don't want to spend it with just anyone. I have lots of friends, and extended family I could spend it with, if I wanted to, but I want to spend it with you, if you want to spend it with me."
"A bit ineloquently put, for a woman who usually has a way with words, but yes, I want to spend Christmas with you. Hell, Granger, all I want for Christmas is you, you daft thing! I'll put everything to rights, Granger, not you, but there's one thing you can do for me, if you would," he requested.
He pulled the sprig of mistletoe out from his shirt pocket and held it high above his head. "I've been dreaming of kissing you for months now. Will you get your arse over here, kiss me, and then we can have the best Christmas ever?"
"My pleasure, Malfoy," she answered with a smile.
Draco held the mistletoe in one hand and cradled her jaw with the other, his thumb resting on her cheek. He rubbed it back and forth, even as his face came ever closer to hers.
At that moment, he knew he had a heart, because it was thumping so loudly in his chest and his ears that he thought it might explode. His hand moved from her jaw to the back of her head, and the hand with the mistletoe moved to circle her back, drawing her closer. Placing both her hands upon his chest, he was certain that she could feel the thumping of his heart, because the blood was racing throughout his body, causing his senses to crash together like an orchestra that was fine-tuning their instruments before a great concerto was to begin.
He knew the contours of her body would fit perfectly next to his. He knew her hair would be soft and that her body would smell perfect and that her eyes would dance and her breath would be sweet. The power of her body overwhelmed him even before he started to kiss her. Finally, he lowered his mouth to hers, and she relaxed into it, and it was heavenly, it was his every Christmas wish multiplied by a thousand!
His lips moved from hers to roam her cheeks, her previously wet eyes, her perfect eyebrows, her hair and her neck. She clutched at his shoulders before finally throwing her hands around his neck. Bringing her closer still, until she was on tiptoes, he placed his mouth back on hers, urged it open, and placed the tip of his tongue on hers.
Something awoke in him. A need, an urgency, but also, a long dormant emotion that had nothing to do with selfishness, egotism, self-centerness, or any of the other petty little emotions that usually described his persona non grata. He was filled with the urge to keep her in his arms, afraid if he let her go, she might disappear forever, but also realizing, finally, that she could make him a better man, if he let her.
He also became aware that for the first time ever, he got the perfect gift for Christmas! She was the right colour, the perfect fit, and he would never have to give her back! Likewise, she was worth her weight in gold – also a bonus!
Releasing her was the second hardest thing he had ever done, but he did. The first hardest thing he had ever done was destroying her house and belongings, but he was going to right that wrong. Staring at her eyes, and her swollen lips (made that way from his kiss, thank you very much) he swore that he would make this Christmas good for her. He couldn't make it the best one ever, because her parents were gone, but he could make it better than it presently was.
"Will you do me a favour?" he asked, holding her hands, bringing one to his mouth to kiss, then the other.
"Will you go over to my house for about an hour? Check on my cat, Draco Malfoy the Second, and well, I don't know, perhaps busy yourself by snooping in my things or something. I have a lot of work to do here, and I really need to do it myself."
She smiled and nodded. "I will, on one condition," she agreed. He raised his eyebrows as an indication for her to continue. "We simply have to rename your cat. I can't continue to call it 'Draco Malfoy the Second'. I just can't."
He laughed, hugged her, and said, "Fine, fine, he seems to hate that name anyway. Let's call him the Grinch. I feel a real affinity for the little green fellow now, so it will be just like naming him after me." She smiled again. He loved it when she smiled. He pulled her to him and repeated, "I'm sorry about Christmas."
"It's okay. You said you'll make it right, so that's all I need," she said back, "although you won't really be able to do anything about dinner or the presents, but I would like it if you could clean the place up and fix my ornaments. Still, I had some pretty amazing presents under that tree for you."
"Listen, if nothing else, I have a tin of perfect biscuits at my house we can eat for Christmas Eve dinner," he joked. "And frankly, all my life, I've been given THINGS, everything I've ever wanted, and nothing ever made me happy, until you." He pulled her close to him again, kissed one cheek, then the other, and admitted, "I don't want pretty presents all wrapped up in bows and pretty trappings. All I want for Christmas is you, Granger. That's all I need. We may be a strange pair, but I don't care, because all I want is you, and frankly, I always get what I want for Christmas."
He winked at her and added, "Be off now, like a good girl, so I can fix up your tree and house." He patted her on the behind and headed her toward the door. When she reached it he ended with, "Oh, and Happy Christmas, Hermione. I love you. Thank you for giving me the best Christmas present ever."
Beaming back at him, she returned, "And I love you too, even if you did try to steal Christmas from me, you Grinch you."