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Chapter 13 : Christmas Eve
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“Well, Well! What have we here? The lovebirds still dozing in their nest?” Said a lofty voice, far too cheerful for mornings, breaking into Hermione’s sleep. “That just won’t do.”
Hermione opened her eyes a sliver and saw someone opening the curtains on Draco’s side of the bed. She covered her eyes with her hands when they did.
Draco stirred then, disturbed by the light. “Bloody ‘ell.” He said blearily. “Hermione?” He questioned, feeling out beside him for her curves, and soon discovering that the figure wasn’t his girlfriend.
“Good guess my man but, alas, you are wrong. It’s Ginny.” She said, moving to Hermione’s curtains now. “And the pair of you should hurry up and get out of bed; you’ve slept through Jane’s fabulous breakfast.”
“What time is it Ginny?” Hermione yawned, sitting up.
“Oh, about eight. We’re leaving for the slopes at nine thirty, so I’d light a fire under your ends if I were you.” She walked back towards the connecting bathroom. “Oh, and Draco? If you don’t mind, I thought you could tag along with me today? Fred and George have wanted some time with Hermione. I figured you and I should get… acquainted.” Then, swift as a bird, she was gone.
Draco dove back under his covers as if it were and art form, punctuating it with a sleep driven groan. “Is she always like this in the mornings?”
Hermione placed her hand on his shoulder. “Unfortunately for us late sleepers.” She said, half apologetic, half amused by Draco’s childish demeanor. “We really should get up though.”
Draco nodded under the blankets and slowly rose up. “Fine; but, I’m closing the bloody curtains.”
Hermione smiled as she looked up at the skiing grounds, walking up to the building where you got your skis. She was absorbing the childhood memories that came with the landscape, Draco by her side.
“Should I be worried Ginny wants to spend time with me?” He asked suddenly. “What does she want?”
Hermione paused before answering. “Um, I think she wants to… evaluate you?”
“She wants to what?”
“I’m not quite sure how to phrase it correctly, but it shouldn’t be anything to worry about I’m sure.”
“If you say so.” Draco said, holding the door open for her.
It wasn’t much longer before everyone got their skis and got into cars. As he’d guessed, Fred and George stole Hermione away, leaving him with the petite, vivacious Weaslette. She’d picked the smallest slope with the longest car ride, annoying Draco slightly. But, after he got over that, another one came in the form of her voice; questioning.
“So, Draco; How are you and Hermione doing?” She asked nonchalantly when they were up in the air.
Draco, a bit taken aback at first, hesitated. “We’re just fine, uh, thanks.”
“Good, good. What do you like about her?”
“Well, she’s um, smart, witty at times and very caring.” He could’ve gone on, but he didn’t want to appear too soft.
Draco tensed, worried his last answer might’ve cost him some points. “We talk a lot, she’s wonderful company as well.”
“That’s good. Communication is very important in a relationship.” Ginny said with a nod of her head. “Anything, else, you fancy in particular? Too much perhaps?”
“I’m not, quite sure what you’re asking me.” He answered, growing wary.
“Well, how can I say this…. Hermione is a very trusting person Malfoy. And naïve when it comes to relationships, you’re only her second boyfriend you know, and thus if you were to be, I don’t know, more interested in some parts of that relationship than others, It’s my duty as her best friend to let her know; understand?”
He did understand, and he was a little offended, but he concluded that going defensive wouldn’t be a good strategy with this one.
“I can assure you, that I’m not interested in one part of our relationship more than the other. And if I was, would I have agreed to come to her parents for the holiday? Rather than keeping her at Hogwarts or taking her away for myself?”
“Touché.” Ginny conceded, smirking. “Well, now that’s settled. What have you gotten her for Christmas?”
Draco felt his blood run cold. He still hadn’t gotten Hermione a gift, nor anyone in the house for that matter. Ginny must’ve sensed his distress, because she then reached to aid him.
“We’ll go separate from the others at lunch, look in some of the town shops. I saw a nice looking jewelry store before we came here. That sound good?”
“Yeah, yeah it does. Thanks Weaslette.” He said earnestly.
Their car came to a stop on top of the slope, they got off before Ginny replied with a smooth, “No problem.”
After about an hour of shopping, they took a break at a coffee shop and Draco treated Ginny to a cookie and hot chocolate. They’d managed to get a silk tie for Mr. Granger, and a French cookbook with chocolates for Jane. Hermione’s gift however, had them running from clothing to jewelry stores and left them with no ideas.
“Thanks.” Ginny said, blowing at the steaming mug. Her cheeks and nose red from the cold.
Draco nodded, taking a sip from his cup of tea and sighing; glad to be getting warmer.
“I just don’t have any ideas left in me!” She exclaimed suddenly, causing Draco to look to her. She stared at him forlornly for a moment. “It’s strange.”
Draco tapped the table. “I know, she loves books, but that’s the easy way out. I want to get her something meaningful, something that will last.”
“That’s what I got her Mother.”
“You could get her a dress?”
“I don’t know her size.”
Ginny paused, staring at him. “You don’t know your girlfriend’s dress size?”
“It’s not the kind of thing we talk about daily! Geez.” He exhaled, running a hand through his hair and staring off at a wall. Just then, as if by magic, a man brought out a vase of the most lovely, most in bloom white roses he’d ever seen.
“Roses are Hermione’s favorite flower, right?”
“Well yeah, but where are we going to get roses this time of…” Ginny trailed off when Draco stood up without another word.
“Excuse me sir?” He called to the man’s retreating back. “Did you buy those roses here?”
“Sure did son, there’s a florist right across the street.” He said. “But, they weren’t cheap. Out of season you know.”
“Thanks.” Draco walked quickly back to the table and grabbed the shopping bags, taking Ginny’s arm and pulling her out of the store.
“Malfoy!” She exclaimed, leaving her mug behind. “I wasn’t finished!”
“Sorry, but I just got a strike of inspiration.”
They entered the florist shop a minute later, and Draco was instantly surrounded by flowers. It smelt of spring time, as if it had been contained in the small little store.
A woman with auburn hair stood at the counter, looking up brightly to greet them.
“How can I help you today?” She asked politely.
“I need a rose, a white one.”
“Just one? That’s a bit strange. We don’t usually sell them by themselves.”
“Can you make an exception? My girlfriend loves roses.” He said, trying to sound desperate.
The woman looked to Ginny. “You just want one rose?”
“What? Oh no, not me; my best friend is his girlfriend.”
“I see.” She said moving back to Draco. “You said a white rose?”
“Yes, plain white.”
“I’ll be right back.” She disappeared behind a door.
“What do you want to give her one rose for?” Ginny asked incredulously.
“I know a spell that makes plants able to withstand wilting. I’m going to give her an everlasting rose.” He beamed at the last bit, a little proud of himself.
Ginny put her hand to her heart. “That is so sweet!” She gushed. Then, Draco knew he’d chosen wisely.
The woman came back a minute later a single, perfect white rose in hand. He then purchased the rose, a wooden box to keep it in and ribbon to tie on the outside. He thanked to woman profusely and left with the happiest smile on his face.
The following day on Christmas Eve, Hermione and Draco woke together as usual, but instead of missing breakfast they were able to join the rest of the family.
They were currently gathered around the large round kitchen table, talking in soft morning voices that hinted at lingering sleep. Hermione inhaled as she took a seat next to Draco, and looked around at all her favorite breakfast foods.
“Looks great Mrs. Granger.” Draco said, half yawning and reaching for a piece of French toast.
“Thank you Draco, I hope you enjoy.” Jane replied with a loving smile. “Would either of you like some coffee?”
They both nodded in earnest and didn’t wait for the hot liquid to cool before it was set in front of them. Hermione was putting sugar in her coffee as she spoke.
“So, what’s going on today Mum?” She asked.
“Well, Draco and Ginny are the only ones who’ve been into town so far, so I thought we could jaunt about there for the day. Tonight, we’re going to a restaurant for Christmas Eve dinner; I’ll be cooking all day tomorrow.” She smiled faintly.
“Oh, I can’t remember the name. The… the… something or other.”
“The Reverie, darling.” Mr. Granger said helpfully.
“Oh! I love that place!” Hermione said excitedly. Draco smiled at the light in her eyes.
“What’s so special about it?” Harry asked Hermione directly.
She glared at him a second before answering. “It’s decorated to look like a fancy restaurant from the fifties. They have a huge dance floor there too, and the food is great.”
“Dance floor?” Ron asked, still chewing some bacon. “We have to dance?”
“Not if you don’t want to Ron.” Mrs. Weasley told her son. “I’m quite excited to however. I don’t know how long it’s been since Arthur and I’ve been dancing.”
“Too long.” Mr. Weasley said with a sweet smile.
“Should be lovely.” Mr. Granger agreed. “Before we head out to town, anyone fancy a game of football? Harry?”
Harry, Ron, Fred, George and Mr. Weasley all agreed to a football game over shopping. Jane, Mrs. Weasley, Hermione and Ginny voted for going into town early.
“You’ll leave me here all by myself?” Draco said so only Hermione could hear.
“I don’t want to, I have to go and um… get something.”
“Like a present?”
“Maybe.” Hermione said slyly. Draco smiled. That would give him time to work on his gifts as well.
A few hours later Draco sat on the floor of his bedroom, staring at the crisp white rose in his hand, utterly frustrated. He’d been trying to remember the incantation for an everlasting plant. He didn’t opt for trial and error, as he only had one flower, and thus his brain was wracked for the information. He tried to remember when the spell had been used before, but he couldn’t quite place the memory.
Was it the gardener? The gardens at the Manor had always been perfect. The cook? To keep the vegetables fresh, perhaps.
Draco put his hand over his eyes, begging his mind to piece together the fragments he had. He remembered hands, pale hands, caressing the petals of a now gold tinted everlasting Narcissus flower. The sparkling dust it left on his hands when he touched it, much less gently. It was light outside in the greenhouse where he’d been standing, not more than six or seven years old. He slowly recalled a voice, whispering the charm over every flower.
“What are you doing?” His small voice asked the hands.
“Making the flowers prettier Draco, more perfect.”
The older Draco’s breath caught in his throat, finally placing the voice as his Mother’s.
“Do you want to try?” She’d asked him, eyes light with the idea of seeing her son do magic.
He’d nodded, excited as he held his Mother’s wand for the first time.
“Repeat after me; Sempiterna herba. Sempiterna herba.”
“Sempiterna herba.” He’d said softly. He remembered the way the petals of the flower had wilted for a moment, then sprung back to life with ten times the beauty they’d had before.
“Good job my son.” His mother had beamed at him. “You’re going to be a very powerful wizard one day.” She hugged him then. “Very powerful indeed.”
Draco’s mind crawled slowly out of his memory, and he opened his eyes to the flower before him.
“Sempiterna herba.” He said, voice thick with emotion. This spell was very important to him, even though he’d forgotten it. It was the first spell he’d ever said, the first one he’d done perfectly, and his mother had taught it to him.
He remembered the wash of perfection as Hermione’s rose unfolded before him; golden in the firelight and sparkling with the promise of her smiles. He smirked into it, glad for the pleasant memory he’d stumbled upon. It was the first dream he’d had about his mother that wasn’t gut wrenching, just fond. He said another charm on the flower so that it would bloom at the touch of a hand and placed it gently into the box, fastening it with the crimson red ribbon.
“Draco?” Said Hermione’s voice on the other side of the door, along with two knocks. “Are you awake?”
“Just a second.” He called, quickly stashing the box under his bed. “Come in.”
Hermione opened the door softly, wearing her coat and hat still. “I just got back.” She said in her musical voice. “The others are still in town though, I just needed to drop off my things.”
“Did you buy much?” He asked, watching her remove her outer clothing.
“Gifts for the Weasleys, they like Muggle things sometimes. I bought my parents gifts in Hogsmede.”
“Good, good.” He said, climbing up onto his bed. “Join me?” He beckoned.
Hermione smiled and rid herself of her shoes and socks before doing so, melting into his arms. He loved the feel of holding her there, and rediscovered just how much every time he got to.
“You did all your shopping yesterday?” She asked lightly, trying not to sound too curious.
“…. What did you get?”
“What kind of things?”
“Battle axes and swords.” He answered sarcastically. “No hints Granger.”
“Fine.” She sighed. “No hints.” She rolled over so she was now on top of him. He could feel his heartbeat going faster. He made mental checks of things in the room. Curtains drawn in, doors closed….
“Not even now?” She asked playfully.
“Not even now.” He replied, sounding more calm than he actually was.
Hermione lowered her face dangerously close to his. “Now?”
“No.” he said much softer.
Then, she pulled him up so she was in his lap, legs wound around him. She put her face to his again. “Now?”
Draco didn’t answer, unable to control himself longer, kissed her passionately instead. She responded fervently, granting him passage behind her lips. He explored her willingly. And while he did, he felt Hermione’s hands snaking underneath his shirt, tracing patterns on his skin. She then pulled away, reaching to pull the shirt over his head. Het let her, curious as to what she was doing, but not enough to ask. Once the shirt was off, he kissed her again, falling back onto his pillows. He felt her fingers winding in his hair, touching his shoulders. He was a glutton for her touch.
He leaned forward then so they were sitting up again, Hermione gasped as he brought his lips to her collar bones, her jawline. She broke away again, pulling his hands to the buttons of her shirt.
Draco paused, clearing his mind enough to speak. “What are you doing?” He whispered.
“The question is, what aren’t you doing?” She looked into his eyes intently.
He stared at her, for a long time, then brought his lips to her ear. “You’re sure?” he asked. “I won’t do anything you don’t want.”
“I don’t want you to hold yourself back.” She whispered.
He felt a fire surge through him, full of longing for Hermione and her kissed her lightly, undoing the buttons of her shirt with agility. He removed it carefully, almost afraid to expose her delicate, vanilla scented skin. But when he did, he simply stared, drunk at the sight of her now exposed torso, save for a plain black bra. He reached out to touch her there, gently running a finger back and forth across her stomach, then his hands gripped her, hovering below her chest. The two shared a look again, and kissed until they were nothing but a tangle of lips and lust and skin.
Draco could have sworn that time stopped for them, until he heard a deathly sound.
“Hermione? Draco? Where’ve you two run off to?” It was Hermione’s mother, ascending the stairs to the bedrooms.
“Shit.” Draco swore, leaping off Hermione so she had time to run into the bathroom and turn the water on. Draco hid her shirt and his shirt under his blanket and pretended to be asleep.
“I’m in the shower Mum! Draco’s sleeping!” Hermione called.
“Oh, alright then. We’re leaving for the restaurant at seven!”
Draco exhaled raggedly, flustered and relieved. He sat in his bed for minutes after, listening to the delicate hum of Hermione’s shower.
Hours later found Hermione completely clothed, walking into the restaurant. She’d let Ginny have her fun doing her hair and makeup again, and as a result her hair hung in beautiful curls down to her shoulders and her face even toned and dewy. She’d even allowed Ginny to put lip gloss on her, albeit a faint cherry red, but still. She wore a red cocktail dress, strapless with a black band across the waist, and a black blazer. She felt surprisingly confident.
The restaurant was more beautiful than Hermione had remembered it. Looking like a set from an old movie with antique chandeliers and ornately carved tables. She gasped, taking in the beauty of it all.
“What a lovely place Jane.” Mrs. Weasley commented. “ I hope we’re not troubling…”
“Never Molly, never. Our gift to you all.” Mr. Granger cut in, tapping her hand reassuringly. “Now, hurry up and order you lot; I’m starved.”
Dinner was eaten slowly, everyone enjoying the company of one another and the delicious food. Hermione had ordered her favorite pasta, and was currently letting Draco taste some off her fork. Hermione was completely aware of Harry’s eyes on her as Draco groaned his approval.
“That’s really good. You want something of mine?” he gestured to his plate of steak and potatoes.
“No thanks sweetheart. I’m almost full anyway.”
He smirked at her use of a pet name, and continued to eat. Hermione looked at the dance floor then, a good non-holiday related song was playing and she was watching some dancing couples enviously.
“’Mione?” Called Harry from the opposite end of the table. “Would you like to dance with me?”
Hermione tensed, looking towards Draco, who was shooting Harry daggers and no doubt swearing with a swift vengeance in his head. She was just about to say no, when her mother cut in.
“Go on then Darling! Let Draco eat his fill.”
“I’m finished.” He said, more controlled than she’d hoped him to be.
“Well nonetheless, Harry hasn’t seen much of her this holiday, has he?”
Hermione threw her mother an angrily curious look as she got up to take Harry’s hand. She breathed easier when she remembered Draco was not so far away this time.
When they got on the floor, Harry began a simple slow dance, but Hermione remained stiff, searching for Draco’s eyes. She grew hotter and angrier when she found her father’s eyes on her and Harry as well.
“You look… amazing tonight ‘Mione.” Harry said after a while.
“Thank you.” She answered shortly.
“Are we going to be like this the whole holiday?”
“Yes Harry, if you continue to press yourself between Draco and I, we will not be on good terms.”
Harry rolled his eyes, and exhaled. Lowering his lips to her ear. “You have to try to see my side of things. I’ve wanted you for too long, and I’m too stubborn.”
“Too stubborn to consider what I want? And what I don’t? Harry, you just need to… get over it.” Her words had come out much harsher than she’d intended, but to her surprise, Harry smiled.
“I can see further ahead than you can.”
Hermione rolled her eyes. “There’s no talking to you.” Harry chuckled lightly.
“Just remember that I’m always here for you.”
“Yeah, with underhanded strategy and snide remarks.” She snapped.
Harry acted like she’d shot him, smiling still.
After their song was done, a much slower, soul filled song took the air. Draco was beside them a moment later.
He and Harry had a silent showdown of stares for a good minute before he spoke. “I’m cutting in.”
“You can’t do that!” Harry protested as Hermione was easily taken from him.
“Actually, I can. And I just did. Ta.” Draco smirked as Harry sulk walked back to the table. “And at last we are alone.” He said softly, as Hermione smiled up at him
“Thanks.” She said. “I don’t know how I’d have gotten rid of him.”
“No problem.” He winked at her. “He just doesn’t know when to stop does he?”
“He’s far too headstrong. A lot like you actually.”
“What?” Draco exclaimed. “You’re crazy.”
“Nope. I know you both well enough to say; you’re stubborn mules.”
Draco laughed heartily. “Okay then Granger; okay.”
Hermione laughed and placed her head on his chest.
“Oh and by the way,” He said. “You look extremely, sexy tonight.”
Hermione blushed violently, having felt the base of his words in his chest.
“Well, thank you.” She managed, putting her head back down. Draco complimented her frequently, but he’d never called her ‘sexy’ before. Maybe it was the high heels.
He lifted her chin up so she was facing him again. “You’re welcome.” He said softly, looking at her lovingly before he kissed her.
Your time is coming closer my son. Your time to return has come.
Draco woke with a start from another manic dream, moving swiftly from his bed. He was glad Hermione had decided not to stay with him tonight. He went to the bathroom and splashed his face with water, then ran it over his throbbing wound.
He was operating on autopilot, and whoever was driving was telling him to get a drink.
He dug through his suitcase, trying to find a flask, even half-full, to dull his senses, swearing aloud when he could find nothing. He paced, thinking of his next move. Going to the kitchen and searching was an option, but his odds of lucking out were slim. He decided to do it anyway.
He crept downstairs quietly, skipping the steps he’d heard creak before, until he walked into the dimly lit kitchen. Starting at the cupboard under the sink, he ravaged the cabinets, looking for anything that might soothe him. After minutes and minutes, he found a bottle of white wine and pressed it to his face, grinning a victory.
“Found what you were looking for?” Said a voice from the kitchen table.
Draco swore, almost dropping the bottle, and turned to see Mrs. Granger sitting at the table, sketchbook in hand. He must’ve walked right past her.
“I… um… I’m sorry.” He said, placing the bottle on the countertop.
“Don’t be.” Mrs. Granger said kindly. “And pour me a glass as well will you?”
Draco, too tired to question, obliged. He got two glasses out, and poured both of them halfway full.
“Thank you.” She said, taking a generous sip from hers. “Will you sit with me a minute?”
“Sure.” He said, still dazed.
Mrs. Granger smiled, then looked back down to her paper, drawing lines of what looked like a person’s face.
“I was up trying to remember you and Hermione at dinner tonight, but I couldn’t do it well, so I came out to draw.” She held up her paper. “See?”
Draco stared at it for a moment. She’d done an almost perfect likeness of Hermione and himself, next to each other at the dinner table, right when Hermione had given him a bite of her food. She’d captured Hermione’s curls, the brightness of her eyes, and every detail of her dress. He looked at himself next, examining the bone structure of his face. Everything was perfect but the eyes.
Mrs. Granger noticed it as well, and looked at Draco questioningly. “Would you mind if I sketched you? I just want to fix a few things.”
He nodded his approval, drinking more of his wine. Jane worked quickly, glancing into Draco’s eyes every now and again for accuracy, and soon enough she was done.
“There; perfect.” She said with pride.
“It’s great.” He said honestly. He felt like he should’ve said more, but he was too damn tired.
“Thank you. I’m giving it to Hermione as a Christmas gift.” She grinned. “I bought the frame in town today.”
Draco nodded, it was a really good idea.
Jane looked at him curiously again. “I can see so much of myself in you right now.” She murmured.
Draco was starting to nod again when he actually heard what she said. “Really? How?”
Mrs. Granger took a deep breath. “Well, when I was young, maybe about twenty, I had Hermione with her father John.”
Draco pondered for a moment; Bruce wasn’t Hermione’s biological Father?
“We were married, don’t get me wrong, but John nursed a few bad habits. A smoker, a gambler and… gone a lot.” A flash of pain crossed her face. “One night, I was home with Hermione when I got a phone call, telling me there’d been a car wreck. John was hit head on, driving home from a bar. I was devastated to say the least, but I knew I couldn’t fall apart completely for Hermione’s sake. And so, my nights were filled with horrible dreams, I drank while Hermione went to daycare… I was really bad; but then I met Bruce, and he turned our lives around.” Jane nodded, a few tears in her eyes.
“She has John’s eyes. Brown and warm.” She said, more so to herself than to Draco. Once she remembered he was in the room, she went on. “The point is, no matter how much a death, or a tragedy can hurt you; there is always something to counteract that pain. Hermione is your antidote Draco, your guiding light. I can see it in both of you. Think of how much you’ve changed since you first met; it’s true right?”
Draco thought, seeing exactly how much truth was in Mrs. Granger’s words. He’d been a wreck at the beginning of the year, and since then, Hermione had brought him one hundred and eighty degrees.
“It’s true.” He said, nodding a bit. “It really is.”
Mrs. Granger poured him a bit more wine. “It’s only going to get better darling. Oh, and this little drink will stay between the two of us if you can promise me, that you’ll start trying to get off it?”
He was reluctant, but agreed nonetheless.
“Good.” She replied clinking his glass with hers. “You’re a good boy Draco. I like you.”
Draco smiled, taking a sip from his glass. “Thanks Mrs. Granger.”
“One more thing sweetie; please, call me Jane.”
A/N: Hello my lovelies :) Yes, this post has taken a while, but with good reason. I'm seriously beginning to consider re-writing The Underground (first story in this duo) because I'm thinking about all the different ways I could have taken it to make it more real, and more interesting. if that happens, it'll be a slow process unless I get seriously inspired, so those of you who don't want to re-read TU will still be able to continue with ABA because this one is going to be finished. I have every chapter planned out :) Thanks for sticking with me darlings.
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