Draco looked around and he was back at Malfoy Manor. The Christmas tree was in its usual place, but he couldn’t help but notice the Christmas music seeming to come from nowhere and the room smelled of deep warm cinnamon.
“Draco. There you are, Love.” Hermione smiled adoringly at him as he walked into the spacious living room.
“How are you feeling, darling?” He went over to her, a bit concerned.
Draco rolled his eyes at his grandfather. “Darling?” He quoted. “Really? This can’t be real.”
“I’m fine.” Hermione replied, struggling a bit to remove herself from the luxurious velvety couch. “Merry Christmas Eve.” She smiled lovingly as they came together in a sensual embrace.
“Whoa. She’s pregnant!” Young Draco shouted, staring at the obvious bump on her belly. “Are you kidding me?”
“No. She is your wife now, Draco. And yes, she is seven months pregnant with your child.”
He stared in awe and wonder at Hermione in this state. He watched himself and the gentle way he was with her. And her eyes… she looked at him as someone in love, full of adoration.
'She could never look at me like that. Could she?' His mind raced as he took in Hermione’s glowing presence in his ancestral home. He was pleasantly amazed.
He remembered something then.
He quickly looked up at the high ceiling to gaze upon the beautiful mural of the witch and her dragon, still holding the prophecy ball. Her banner had indeed changed. Instead of protecting her 'Purus Cruor' pure-blood family, she now protected “Amor Verus.”
“True Love?” Draco translated, very, very pleased at the necessary revised message. “Much better, witch. Much better.”
Hermione spoke then. “I know that you say you never want any Christmas presents, Draco, but…”
“But nothing. I told you. You are giving me the greatest gift a woman could ever give me. A son, Hermione. I don’t want anything else and I mean that.” He smiled at her, his heart full of love for this woman standing in front of him.
A son? He was going to have a son? The thought brought fear with it, but it was a strange kind of fear. Not the fear that Draco was used to feeling. “A son of my own?” He asked his grandfather in awe. “And with her of all people?” He kept his gaze on her with feelings of disbelief mixed with sheer happiness as a smile made its way across his face. It was short-lived though, as the conversation became serious.
“I got you something anyway. I couldn’t help myself,” she said, excited and pleading.
“I told you... no gifts.” He snapped. “Look, this no gift thing goes way back to a horrible childhood. One I take completely seriously.”
“Whatever happened to you back then should not prevent me from giving you a gift now,” she argued playfully.
“I gave you one rule. I expect you to fully respect it.” He could feel the walls of fury beginning to build inside of him, feelings that had never surfaced when it came to his wife.
“Draco. Listen to me, will you? You are being completely irrational about this.” She tried to calm him, but those were not the right words.
“Irrational? You have no idea what happened to me. You have no idea!” He practically yelled, his mouth tightening into a hard line.
“Maybe it’s time to heal your past and just accept a bloody gift for once.”
“You need to abide by my wishes when it comes to this. I’m absolutely serious. This holiday is extremely hard for me. I refuse whatever it is.”
Draco's insides were now burning.
“You should see it first, before you refuse it,” she urged him with hope in her words.
“I said, no... and that is final.”
“I cannot believe you are reacting like this. You haven’t been like this with me since, well since our Hogwarts years. You’re being hateful to me and quite frankly you are scaring me here.”
He sighed and took in a deep breath, visibly trying to calm himself down. “Sorry, Hermione. It’s just that you don’t fully understand this. And I don’t ever expect that you will.”
“Tell me then. Maybe I will understand. You don’t give me enough credit.” She said, trying to convince him. “Trust me with this. As painful as it is, tell me so that I can understand why you feel the way you do.”
“Never,” he answered with a heated scowl.
“If you won’t tell me, then let me give you the gift then. You shouldn’t be able to have it both ways. Either tell me or accept the gift.” She said, trying to reason with her husband, whom she loved so dearly.
Young Draco turned to his grandfather then. “This isn’t right. She shouldn’t be relentlessly berating me like this. What happened with my father isn’t any of her business!” He yelled furiously.
“Why are doing this to me?” Draco asked her. “Why are you prying into the private hell that was my childhood? Why can’t you just leave it alone?”
“Why can’t you just accept a gift from me? You love me and I love you. I’d never hurt you with a gift. I got it for you because I think you’d love it… I love it.” She said lovingly. “It’s a gift for our family, really. For us,” she said, placing her hand on her oversized belly.
He let out a huge sigh, knowing that he was about to give in to his irresistible, stubborn wife.
Draco yelled at his older self, as if he could hear. “Don’t do it. Don’t you dare tell her what happened!” He demanded.
“I cannot bring myself to tell you what happened. So... I suppose, even though I’m thoroughly pissed off at you right now, I will see your gift and then decide if I want to accept it or not. Am I clear?”
Knowing she’d won him over, her face lit up with the smile and she kissed her husband. A full kiss that had the younger Draco amazed. “Unbelievable. This is all unbelievable.”
“Okay. Are you ready?” She asked teasingly.
“No.” Draco replied. “I really don’t want this.” He said as his nerves seered.
“Well you are getting it anyway.” Leaving his side, she walked into the adjoining room fully thinking she could help her husband get over his disdain for Christmas presents.
“I put a silencing charm on the room so that you couldn’t hear her if she started barking.” Hermione explained happily with her back to Draco.
His eyes grew wide. 'Barking?' The word was like a shot directed at his chest as his heart's rhythm stopped for a split second.
“What the hell did you just say?” Both Dracos were astonished as a fire grew within them. A deep vengeful, relentless fire.
His breathing grew heavy and fast as he prepared himself for the worst gift she could possibly give him.
The older Draco had closed his eyes, the memory fully rearing its ugly head until he wanted to explode in a fit of rage that had built up over a lifetime.
“How did she know?” Draco demanded of his grandfather. “How the bloody hell did she know?” He raged.
“She didn’t know. You never told her!” He yelled back. “Had she known she never would’ve have done it. I told you she could sense your feelings, but not truly know what was going on in your head. How could she with your Occlumency?”
Hermione walked back into the room with the very source of his pain and misery for the last twenty years and she was giving the foul thing to him as a bloody Christmas gift.
So much pain. He harbored so much pain. For years he’d try to ignore it, push it down deep into his gut. Even as happy as he was with Hermione as his beloved wife, it never fully went away. It was just ‘there’ and he thought he’d learned to live with it.
“For God’s sake, Draco, open your eyes and look at her.”
The lump in his throat grew thick as he opened his eyes to see a damned black puppy. One that looked so eerily similar to his Stella... the dead dog of his youth.
He stared at her as if she’d just stabbed him in the heart.
Twenty years of pain came bubbling to the surface, like molten lava before the volcano erupts.
Hermione took notice that he was furious and was visibly shaken. The expression she saw on his face made her feel as if she were in danger somehow. She’d never seen him so upset. Never.
“Draco?” She questioned cautiously. “It’s just a puppy.”
“You will remove it from this house. I don’t want to ever look at it again as long as I live!” He shouted.
“Draco, she’s harmless. I thought that…”
“What kind of sick game are you playing with me? Did you really think this was going to ‘heal my past’?” He asked mockingly, fully believing she must’ve known all along.
“Sick game? This is not a sick game.” She answered shaking her head. “It’s your gift from me and she’ll be a wonderful addition to our family, you’ll see.” She urged.
But Draco was only seeing his childhood pain wriggling in her arms and he only felt hate for it.
She put the pup on the floor and began playing with it a bit, completely unsure of what to do about Draco. Her fear began to show and she felt that he had become rather unpredictable.
Hermione hadn’t noticed, but Draco had pulled out his wand.
“Draco. Tell me. What is going on here?” She pleaded cautiously.
But he wasn’t sure what was happening himself. He wanted to kill the thing. It was irrational and he knew it. He had loved that dog long ago. But now it had changed into something else all together.
“Grandfather, I think I’m going to be sick.” Young Draco said, witnessing the scene play out in front of him.
Just then, the volcano within erupted. The older Draco raised his wand to strike a blow directly at the symbol of his childhood pain.
But as he did, Hermione’s motherly instincts kicked in and without thinking, she put herself between Draco and the black pup, fully taking the blow of his curse and knocking her hard into a stone wall.
“Hermione!” He cried, rushing to her side. As soon as he grabbed hold of her, they were apparating to St. Mungo’s Hospital.
“That was no killing curse. Don’t you dare tell me that I killed her!” He shouted as the flames in the fireplace tripled in response to his rage. “It was just a jolt to keep the thing far away from me!”
“The blow sent her into early labor.” The old man said sorrowfully. “Had it been in the eighth or ninth month, he would’ve been fine. But he was born too early. There were complications and he did not survive.”
Draco put a fist to his stomach as he felt a stab to his abdomen, letting out a guttural moan of grief and despair.
“Are you telling me that I killed my own son… before he even had a chance to live?” Draco leaned a hand against the fireplace mantle, trying to steady himself. He felt sick, felt it in the pit of his stomach, the shock. “This is unimaginable. My own child dead because of what my father did when I was seven!”
His eyes blurred as tears escaped. As soon as he blinked them away he went to a small moving photograph of a proud Lucius and his wicked smirk. He picked it up. “You foul son of bitch!” He growled. With all the force in him, Draco reached back and rammed the photo into the fireplace flames, watching it burst and burn.
“After the funeral of your child, you both returned home and tried to go on with your lives. But every time you looked at Hermione, her eyes were sad and her arms were empty where there should’ve been a child. And no matter how many times she forgave you, you couldn’t forgive yourself. You were afraid to have another child. When she told you she was ready to try again, you were sick to death with worry that something would go wrong. You ended up pushing her away with your silence as you withdrew yourself from her life. You told her that you and your name were cursed and that you could only give her a cursed life.”
“I’m beginning to think that’s true.” Draco snapped.
“You shut her out emotionally and physically and she couldn’t take the weight of the depression that her life had become. So when Ronald Weasley came and took her out of the Manor, you didn’t stop him.”
Abraxas Malfoy seemed to age twenty years as he paused for a moment before revealing what was next.
“Potter warned Weasley that his wife was unstable and wouldn’t be able to take him leaving her. Harry tried to persuade him… saying that you just needed more time. But Ron wouldn’t listen. And a very distraught Lavender Weasley threw herself from the highest tower at Ministry Headquarters leaving a simple note that read... ‘I won’t die invisible’.”
“Oh, my God!” Draco voiced his painful anguish as he finally doubled over, fell to his knees, and buried his head in his hands, tears streaming at so much tragedy.
“That’s when Astoria took pity on you and your circumstances and began loving you, trying to show you that there could be life and love after tragedy. She pulled you out of the Manor and your mind off everything, at least at first. She showed you love and you married her, as you heard your older self say, ‘thinking it would make a difference.’ Your best friend, Blaise, fully stepped aside, believing that you needed Astoria to stay alive, putting your life before his own happiness.”
“Blaise would do that, wouldn’t he?" He breathed. "Such a loyal friend.” He whispered to himself.
Draco felt his soul crush from the inside.
“How could it all come to this? If this is truly the future of us all, then take out your wand and kill me now and spare everyone their pain!” He yelled.
“No! You must fix it.” His grandfather demanded. “You will fix it.”
“How? How am I supposed to fix all of this bloody hell on earth?” Draco slowly stood again and paced.
“You must forgive your father and make peace with the past.”
“How am I supposed to do that? I hate what he’s done. Even if I do forgive him, he won’t change!”
“You’re right. He won’t change. And let’s be honest. We both know this isn’t just about a dog’s death at Christmas!” His grandfather’s voice raged.
With that undeniable crushing truth, Draco’s pacing stopped as he stared deep into his grandfather’s heated expression, wondering just how much the old man had known while he was still alive.
“He’s been an abusive tyrant to you and your mother for years. I know why you fear the shadows and I know why there is no door to your bedroom closet.”
Draco couldn’t remember how old he was when the magic inside him shattered the solid mahogany closet door, but he knew he had been very, very young. It was his earliest memory of his use of magic.
Lucius would lock him in his bedroom closet for… God only knows how long.
After too many times, toddler Draco couldn’t take the darkness anymore and the magic he was born with... helped him get out.
He wasn’t sure how it happened exactly. He only knew that he had furiously concentrated on the door as his breathing became very rapid the more he wanted out. At the height of his breathing he reached up high above his head and slammed both palms against the door as hard as he could with a desperate and angry shout. There was a flash of light as the door reacted as if it were glass and shattered into hundreds of mahogany pieces.
The door was beyond repair and had never been replaced.
“You bring up the closet door… and still you expect forgiveness?” He said with a very shaky, cracking voice. The lump in his throat almost fully choking him.
“As traumatic as your childhood has been, you must not let it ruin the rest of your life, not to mention the lives of those around you. Forgive him for everything and live to be the better man.”
The clock was chiming again, louder it seemed than all the other times.
“Be the better man!” Abraxas Malfoy bellowed loudly as his voice echoed in Draco’s ears, blending in with the sounds of the Malfoy Manor grandfather clock.
And so here we are...The "Christmas Carol" dream sequence of the story is complete. I promise the next chapter isn't so sad, as Draco summons his house elves to do some good in his dark world. Thanks so much for reading.
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