A Familiar Place Christmas
(A short Christmas Story – Part of the 'A Familiar Place' Series)
Part I –
Christmas Time is Here, Without the Cheer
Sitting on the edge of the sofa and looking over boxes that littered the front room of her large, old house, Hermione scooted the closest one to her away from the sofa with her foot and then leaned over another one, which was next to the fireplace hearth. Was it in there? She had already searched all of these boxes here, as well as all of the Christmas boxes in the attic. If she couldn't find it in one of these boxes, she would assume it was long gone.
Her sixteen-year-old daughter ran into the room, along with her daughter's fifteen-year-old boyfriend, Mark. The two had officially been 'dating' since the start of the school term. Mark was the son of one of Hermione's best friends, Nick Boot, and nephew of Draco's best friend, Don Boot. He was also the grandson of a vampire named Sanguini, although no one would ever mistake the perpetual 'thirty-year old' looking vampire as the 'grandfatherly' type.
Ever inquisitive, just as her mother was at that age, Hermione knew if Carina saw all of these boxes opened all over, she would wonder what was going on – after all, they had already decorated for house for Christmas two days ago. There was no reason for there to be 'Christmas' boxes all over the front parlor, yet here they were, ALL OVER the front parlor.
"What's up, Mummy?" Carina asked, coming to a halt in front of the sofa.
"Nothing," Hermione lied, closing the box she had just looked into. She knew Carina would wonder what she was doing. Perhaps she could divert her daughter's attention. "What are you and Mark up to today? It's the first day of your break, so surely you have something planned, besides staying here all day."
"Daddy wants us to help him decorate the outside of the house," Carina offered.
Hermione sighed and stood up. "For goodness sakes. Draco Malfoy has one job, and only one job, to do and he can't even do it himself! And we live in Hogsmeade! He can even use magic!" Hermione complained. "You run along. You don't have to spend your school break doing your father's chores."
"Someone has to do them," their second child, a tall, thirteen-year old blonde girl said. "Father's waiting for you, Carina. You too, Mark."
"What about you, Terran Dawn?" Carina said with a sneer. "You get out of everything, because you're Daddy's favourite."
"I'm reading," she began, holding up a magazine.
"Mummy, tell your darling daughter that a magazine does not constitute reading," Carina laughed. However, she took her boyfriend's hand and headed outside.
Terran looked over at her mother and said, "What are you looking for, Mum?"
"Oh, nothing," Hermione voice sounded muffled as she lied yet again, her head far into the back of yet another box.
Eleven-year-old Cygnus, hair as dark and curly as his mother and oldest sister's hair, walked into the room and said, "This is the last of the boxes from the shed, Mum, but I think these are really old decorations, because the boxes are all dusty and moldy. Some are even slightly damp and destroyed. Still, they do say 'Christmas' on them."
"Thanks, Cyggy," Hermione offered, leveling her wand at the last two boxes the young man brought into the room. She brought them over to her and began to look inside.
"What is she looking for?" Terran asked again.
"You aren't supposed to end a sentence with a preposition, but what do I expect from the only Malfoy sibling not named after a constellation? Oh, and also the dumb blonde in the family," Cygnus teased his sister.
A man walked into the room at that moment and said, "Hey, I'm blond, and I'm part of this family, too."
With her head still in a box, Hermione said, "He only objects to the fact that his son forgot he was in the family, not that he was dumb." Then with her head out of the box, she said, "And she's named after Terry and Don Boot. That's better than being named after a stupid constellation. I wouldn't have named any of you after constellations, except your father insisted."
Draco glared at his wife.
She continued, "And he only insisted because his father insisted."
With a smirk, Draco told his only blonde child, "Thank your stars you're named after the Boots. Your mother wanted to name Carina 'Hydra' after the eight-armed snake goddess."
Hermione threw a pillow at Draco's head and said, "AND CONSTELLATION!"
Both of his children laughed. Hermione huffed, frowned, and stuffed her head back inside a box. Draco took in his wife's weary countenance, made a disgusted sound in the back of his throat and said, "Go on with you both," to his children. "Leave us alone for a while. Help Carina and Mark with the outside decorating."
"Mummy said you were to do it," Terran relayed.
"Yes well, Mummy's head's stuck deep in a box, so what Mummy doesn't know won't hurt her," Draco joked.
"She'll still know," Cygnus pleaded. As they left the room he said, "Perhaps he is dumber than you."
Draco plopped on the couch, throwing a book and a box off the other end to the floor. "You know, I would never have been as disrespectful to my father as they are to me."
Hermione looked up at her husband, smiled, and said, "I know. Isn't it great?"
"Yeah, it is," he agreed with a grin. Slipping off the couch, he slid to the floor beside her. "What are you searching for, little one?"
"I can't tell you," she answered, placing a hand on his thigh, with another sigh.
A four-year-old boy with dark, sandy hair came running into the front room holding a green, glass spider made of fragile glass in his hand. Hermione gasped as soon as she saw it, Draco got up to his knees, but it was too late. Little Leo, their youngest and most adored, tripped over one of the boxes that was strewn around the room and he dropped the little glass spider.
"Leo, what have you done, baby boy?" Draco asked his youngest son, standing up and sweeping the boy off his feet.
Hermione remained on her hands and knees, picking up pieces of broken glass, here and there. "Oh, Draco, it's ruined," she cried, remembering the first Christmas she obtained the ornament.
She got it two Christmases before Draco went back in time to their sixth year in school. That Christmas, while he was in the past and she in the future, was a terrible Christmas to be sure. All she remembered from that Christmas was that she was pregnant with Carina, and she felt sad, lonely, and that they were so very far apart, which made her miss her husband fiercely.
Flashback to Familiar Place III-
Ron finished putting the Christmas tree in the corner of Hermione's living room, turned on the lights, and asked, "Is that good? Do you want to decorate it now?" She didn't answer. He turned to look at her. "Hermione?" She was sitting on the couch, a small ornament in her hand. He came to sit beside her. He knocked his shoulder into hers. "That's a strange ornament."
"It's a spider. A glass spider," she said, holding it up by the silver string, and watching it as it swayed back and forth. Ron grimaced. He didn't even like spider ornaments. She placed it under his nose and he pushed it away with his hand, which made her laugh.
She said, "Draco bought it for me two years ago." She fingered the small silver and green, glass spider. The silver piece of string from which it hung was so thin and wasp like, it was almost as if it was a piece of spider web. She started to hand it to Ron, but he shook his head no.
She said, "According to a German and Ukrainian legend, once upon a time, long, long ago, a mother was cleaning her house to prepare it for the most important day of the year. She was preparing it for Christmas Eve. It was a day to honour the Christ child, and she didn't want even one speck of dirt to be left in her house. All of the spiders in the house went to one little corner of the ceiling to avoid being swept away when she dusted. When it was apparent that she was even going to clean the ceiling, they went to hide in the attic.
"The tree by the hearth in the living room was decorated with all sorts of finery - glass bulbs, golden ribbons, and candles and such. The spiders wanted to see the tree, and they also wanted to be present on Christmas Eve, to catch sight of the Christ child."
She placed the fragile spider in Ron's large hand, whether he wanted it there or not, and continued to speak. She didn't see that Harry and Ginny were standing in the doorway, listening intently along with Ron, or that her mother and father had walked in from the other doorway, behind them, from the dining room, and were listening, too.
"The oldest spider suggested that they go down and peek through the crack in the door, to see the wonderful tree, so they crept down the stairs and they waited at the crack in the door. When someone opened to door, they scurried into the room. The room was too bright for their eyes, from the light of the fire, and the candles on the tree, which reflected on the glass bulbs. Since they couldn't see the tree from far away, they crept up and over the tree, up and down, around and around, each and every twig and branch, so that they could see every little ornament. Once they had seen the entire tree, the oldest spider declared that they should go back to the attic."
"Therefore, they left, but what they didn't understand was that every single branch and ornament that they had touched, they had also left behind a web. When the Christ Child came to bless the house, he saw all the webs, and since he loved every living creature, including spiders, and he didn't want the mother of the house to be angry at the spiders, or dismayed that they had ruined the tree for her children, he touched the webs with his finger. When he did, they all started to sparkle and shimmer, silver, gold, and bright. When the children and the mother came to see the tree the next morning, they saw the silver and gold shining webs, and they were filled with delight, and ever since then, according to legend, we have hung tinsel on our Christmas tree, to honour the spiders."
She took the little glass spider back from Ron and he said, "I still hate spiders."
They all laughed and then Hermione said, "And still I miss Draco." Everyone stopped laughing. She walked up to the tree, hung the spider, and walked out of the room.
Back to the present -
"Sorry, Mummy," Leo said from his father's arms.
"I know, sweetheart, but you were told to leave the ornaments on the tree," Hermione scolded. She threw the glass remains in one of the boxes that her older son had brought in from the shed and then started up the stairs.
Draco, still holding Leo, watched as his wife climbed the stairs one at a time, slowly. "Little one, if you'll just let us know what you were looking for in the boxes, we'll help you find it," Draco called up to her.
"Never mind, it's not important," she called back down. Then walking down the hallway to her bedroom, she said to herself, "and I was merely looking for some Christmas cheer, but I don't think I'm going to find it this year."
(Part II coming up!)
*I started this last year and didn't finish. I don't really have much Christmas cheer myself this year. Maybe I can find some of my own while Hermione finds hers.