To all Harry/Hermione fans, here's a festive tale for you.
Disclaimer: Nope, don't own Harry Potter, but who knows what Father Christmas will bring me this year :)
Harry Potter and the Twelve Days of Christmas
Chapter 1: The Challenge.
13th December, 2001.
The gate to the garden of the cottage squeaked as he opened it to walk through. He smiled at the sight of the cottage, one of the windows letting a warm golden glow out onto the snow outside, and a few wisps of smoke floating out of the chimney.
She would not be here yet, but her parents were here, and it is they who Harry wished to speak to.
He walked up to the door and knocked. A few moments later it was opened and the woman on the other side greeted him with a wide smile before pulling him into a hug.
"Harry! How nice to see you. You're a little early, I'm afraid. Hermione's not home from work yet."
Harry smiled and returned the hug, replying "I know. I actually wanted to speak with you and your husband, Mrs Granger."
"Harry, how many times must I tell you to call me Emma?" the woman asked, pulling him inside and shutting the door "Daniel's through there." she added without waiting for Harry's response to her question. She directed him to the front room.
The truth was, Harry knew full well that he had Hermione's parents' permission to call them by their given names, but he did not yet feel that he had earned that right. Hopefully he'd feel more comfortable with the idea once he had their answer to his question, although that depended entirely on what their answer actually was.
Harry and Emma found Daniel Granger sitting in the comfortable armchair by the fireplace, which contained a merrily flickering fire, reading the evening paper and smoking a pipe.
"Dan, look who's here." said Emma happily.
Daniel looked up at the new arrival and smiled widely "Harry," he said, getting up and extending a hand to him "good to see you, son."
"It's good to see you too, sir." replied Harry, shaking the man's hand.
"You're a bit early, my lad." said Dan, sitting back down "Hermione's still at work."
"I know." replied Harry "I actually came early, you see, I have something to ask the two of you."
Dan sat up a bit straighter in his chair, putting his paper aside as his wife sat down on the arm of the chair.
"I see," said Dan "And what is it that you wanted to ask us?"
Suddenly feeling a little nervous, Harry brought his hand up and ruffled the hair on the back of his head, a trait he developed during the final year of the second war against Voldemort.
He took a deep breath "Okay, it's like this; I want to ask Hermione to marry me on Christmas day, and I'd like your permission to do it."
"Of course." answered Emma immediately, though Daniel had other ideas.
"Daniel!" his wife exclaimed.
Harry felt as though he had been violently kicked in the stomach, and missed the silent conversation between the husband and wife which resulted in Emma leaving the room.
"Harry" said a voice that cut through the haze of pain that Harry seemed to be in "Harry, you realise why I said no don't you?"
Harry swallowed thickly through the sickly feeling that surged through him and answered "Well, to be honest, sir…" he broke off.
"Harry, she's my little girl. My only child."
Harry understood that much, Hermione explained how complications when she was being born meant that her mother was unable to conceive another child.
"I said yes to a suitor of hers once before, and he hurt her. Badly."
Anger welled up inside of Harry at the reference to his red-headed former best friend "I'm nothing like that arrogant-"
"I know you're not." interrupted Daniel "If you were, I'd have chased you away with a stick the moment Hermione brought you home as her new boyfriend. But you know what an awful state she was in when that Weasley broke her heart by sleeping with that tart." he practically spat the name Weasley "Harry, if you're going to have my permission to marry my daughter, you're going to have to earn it."
"How?" asked Harry, eager to earn the approval of his would-be fiancé's father. He would do anything to prove himself.
Daniel Granger sat back in his seat, surveying the young man in front of him. Harry Potter was definitely a better match for his Hermione that that prat Ronald Weasley had ever been, but after seeing his daughter so devastated by a would-be husband before, Daniel wanted Harry to prove his love for his daughter.
It just so happened that Daniel Granger was a member of the local church choir, having joined up shortly after arriving in the village following their selling of his and Emma's dental practice a little over a year ago. The choir was currently in rehearsals for the Christmas Eve carol service. As well as many usual carols about the birth of Jesus, they were also planning on singing a few more traditional carols as well, including one in particular.
"Harry, I assume that you are familiar with the song "The Twelve Days of Christmas", are you not?"
"Of course." replied Harry. A part of him wondered where Daniel Granger was going with this, and another, more worried part of him thought it already knew.
"Today, Harry is the 13th of December. Starting tomorrow, I want you to bring Hermione each present mentioned in the song. Tomorrow, the 14th will be a partridge in a pear tree. The day after, the 15th, will be two turtle doves, and so on, until the 25th, Christmas Day, when you will present her with the final gift, twelve drummers drumming. If you do this, I will give you my consent to ask my daughter for her hand in marriage."
"Fine, I'll do it." replied Harry confidently, although on the inside he was panicking; where the hell was he supposed to get a partridge? Or a pear tree for that matter?
Daniel smiled "I don't doubt it."
The pair sat in silence for a few moments before Harry asked a question that suddenly sprang to his mind.
"Sir, don't the twelve days of Christmas usually come after the 25th?"
"Of course they do." replied Daniel "But I was under the impression that you wanted to be able to ask Hermione to marry you on the 25th?"
Harry could only nod in answer.
The silence was broken once again by a key in the lock on the front door.
"I'm home!" Hermione called, pulling off her thick, fleece-lined coat and woolly hat and hanging them both up.
Emma came out of the kitchen to welcome her home and tell her that Harry was there.
Hermione swept into the living room, gave her father a hug and a kiss on the cheek and then sat down on the sofa and snuggled into Harry's side after giving him a kiss.
"Hi sweetie." she greeted him "You're early."
"Yeah, well…" said Harry, searching for an excuse to be here so soon "I couldn't wait to see you, could I?"
"Aw." was Hermione's response, before she grabbed his arm and pulled it around her shoulders.
"I'm cold. Warm me up."
Harry grinned. He might not have a clue where he'd go to get a bunch of birds, leaping lords, dancing ladies or multiple musicians, but warming Hermione up was something he knew he could do.
A/N: So what do you think? To those of you wondering what exactly Ron did to break Hermione's heart so terribly, I don't know if I'll go into detail about it because that's not what this story is about, but you'll probably safe in assuming that its one of the generic reasons found in fanfictions.
Fun fact for the story: I knew that I wanted to write this, but had trouble getting words flowing, so I downloaded "The Twelve Days of Christmas" sung by The Spinners (the UK folk group, not the American R&B/soul group) to my iTunes library, which tells me that in writing this chapter alone, I have listened to it 33 times! Certainly got the gears of plot-making going though!