The Unneeded Christmas Gift
Hermione and Ginny were both jerked awake on Christmas morning with a loud noise that made their eardrums throb and skin erupt in shivers. Quickly turning around to look for the source of the noise, Hermione saw a small electric red blow horn floating in the middle of the room no bigger than a snitch. She reached up to try and swipe it away but it moved quickly to the left and avoided her hand. Growling, Hermione looked over at the clock. Five in the morning. This thing had woken them up at five o'clock in the morning. Hermione considered herself to be a morning person and she thought this was ridiculous. People were supposed to sleep in during break, not be woken up by a miniscule blow horn for an alarm.
Ginny was in the same mood as Hermione as she groggily got up and walked to the door sleepily. Hermione wondered vaguely why she was making such an effort to get out of the room when it was clear that she was still well over half asleep. But, her question was put to rest as she threw open the door and Fred and George came into few cupping their ears and obviously waiting for something. Of course this was their doing. Hermione thought to herself with a grimace.
The blow horn immediately flew into George's hand and he pushed what looked to be a small button on the bottom and it deflated in his palm like a balloon which he quickly pocketed. She saw Ginny put a hand on her hip as the other supported her body against the doorframe. Hermione feared—okay, hoped—that Ginny's hand would give out soon and she would collapse to the floor in a heap. Fred's voice brought her out of her revere and its peppy tone made her even more anxious to close the door.
“Happy Christmas!” He shouted loudly.
“Hope little Luther here didn't wake you from ahem any pleasant dreams.” George piped up with a wink in Hermione's direction. She shot him an odd look in return, not really getting why he was pointing his suggestion at her. Did she look like she dreamed? Especially about those things? Disgusting.
“Why do you insist on waking us up? The presents aren't going anywhere.”
Fred and George shot each other a naughty glance, “How do you know?”
Ginny scoffed and Hermione suppressed a chuckle. The situation stopped being funny quickly as their faces grew serious. She made a note to leave the room when someone opened a present from them.
“Cut it out. Now please, take your little toy and get out so we can sleep.” Ginny said through clenched teeth.
“Sorry little sis, no can do. “ George said, putting his hands in his pockets.
“Mum and Dad have been up since four getting Charlie settled in and said to have everyone down by five for presents.” Fred continued.
Ginny glanced backward at Hermione for a second and looked back at the smirking twins. Sighing, she leaned in and spoke in a wispy tone, “Is there coffee?”
“Three pots,” George said in an equally hushed voice.
“I'm in.” Ginny said as she pushed past Fred and George and bounded down the stairs in a rush. Hermione didn't know how coffee could motivate a person so much. She was up, so she would stay up. That's just the way her body worked.
She heard a pair of feet come closer to where she was sitting up and let her gaze float upward to see Fred smiling down at her. He held out a hand, “Come on Sleeping Beauty, presents await you downstairs.”
Hermione gave a look, “I don't think so.”
He frowned and leaned down so that his weight rested on his knees. “And why would you say something like that?”
Hermione shrugged, “I've never been a big Christmas fan.”
Fred shot her a small smile, “Well that's about to change. You're in Weasley territory now. Everyone who walks out of this house never wants to leave after Christmas Dinner.”
“Well I see the point in that but…” she trailed off.
Hermione sighed resolutely, “Nothing. Lead the way to the presents.”
Fred didn't look convinced but helped her up regardless and walked with her down the stairs and into the living room that was already bursting with people in their pajamas holding mugs of hot coffee and sorting through presents. Fleur seemed to be glowing in her all-white silk nightgown and matching robe, looking around at the atmosphere and smiling every free moment she had. Hermione made a point to find out what that was about later.
Fred led her over to sit between who she assumed to be Charlie and, to her horror, Harry. Charlie was very stocky and clearly had the most freckles out of the bunch. She didn't think that anyone could give Ron a run for his money, but was proven wrong. Props for Charlie.
It was too late to get up and move without getting noticed so she tried her best not to touch him. Unfortunately, the couch wasn't going to allow her to do that. Their arms brushed and she had to control the shivers that went up her arm and to her spine. She thought she saw Harry take a sharp intake of breath but brushed it off and blamed the awkward situation that they were in. They had been successfully ignoring each other the past few days and now it may all be for nothing.
“All right, is everybody here?” Mrs. Weasley asked from the kitchen archway. After the party, Fred and George had elected to take down their Special Mischievous Mistletoe due to many more couples being thrown about the room and causing damage to the shelves full of Mrs. Weasley's records and knitting supplies.
“Yes mum, the last of them have finally arrived.” Bill said teasingly and Ginny stuck her tongue out at her older brother.
“Perfect.” She clapped her hands and the presents that had been placed precariously under the tree floated throughout the room and landed in front of whom they were addressed to.
Every member of the room got a thin box wrapped in red and white stripped paper and a matching thin ribbon that Hermione could only assume to be the sweaters that Harry had told her about. Other than that clone of a gift, Hermione was surprised to see an extra three presents set in front of her.
“I think this year we'll go youngest to oldest, yeah?” Mrs. Weasley asked the room.
Moans and groans followed that statement except from Ginny who pumped her fist in the air in triumph. She immediately set to open her presents by tearing the carefully wrapped gifts to shreds. She opened the sweater first and Hermione got her first hint at what they looked like. Ginny's was a light purple and she could see a large G sewn onto the front in a darker shade. It was obviously hand-knit and Hermione finally saw why they held them in such high regards. They were made exclusively for them and no one else could say that they had the exact same one. Ginny's face erupted in a grin and she thanked her mother with sincerity.
Ginny had other small gifts from each of her older brothers; products wrapped in pink from Fred and George's shop, authentic Romanian chocolate from Charlie, jewelry from Fleur and Bill, and a set of new quills from Percy who had failed to make it. She unwrapped a package in light blue as quickly as the others and stopped when she saw what was inside—a gold locket. Harry avoided Ginny's eyes and shifted in his seat. Hermione could feel the tension in the air and wished that it would go away. The last thing she wanted was to hear another heated argument.
Harry was next and his sweater was an emerald green that matched his eyes with a lighter green H embroidered on the front. He also got similar gifts to Ginny's and a green package. Ginny had gotten him a pair of silk red pajama pants and he sent a thankful smile in her direction.
Ron was after and his sweater was a maroon with a dark purple R on it. His presents consisted mostly of sugary sweets and Quidditch supplies from his elder brothers. Hermione didn't want to be next. She was afraid of what was inside the carefully wrapped packages at her feet. But, when Ron opened his last box of Bertie Bott's, she knew she had to. Taking a deep intake of breath, she started with the sweater and felt the soft yarn beneath her fingertips before she saw it. Pulling it out of the box, she saw that it was a dark blue with a lighter blue H on the front. Hermione looked over at where Mrs. Easley was sitting and thanked her sincerely.
“Oh, it's not a problem dear. Any friend of my children is family to me.” She said sweetly.
Hermione blushed and placed the sweater back in the box and set it aside. Picking up the next box, she unwrapped the bright yellow paper and opened the cube-shaped box. Inside was an assortment of fudge and sweets and Hermione looked at the small tag inside. It read: Happy Christmas! Your mates, Harry and Ron. Hermione looked over at Harry and said, “You didn't have to get me anything, you know.”
“How did you know it was m—” Hermione shot him a look and he sighed, “I know, but I wanted too.”
There goes the “not acknowledging each other” plan. Her mind whispered bitterly. Ignoring her thoughts, she managed a quick, “Thank you.”
He smiled at her and nodded. She got back to her remaining gift quickly before her body had time to react under his eyes. The next present was wrapped in a bright pink box and Hermione was afraid to open it. Pink was a dreadful color and anything inside of that box couldn't be good. She had to put her better judgment away, however, for the sake of appearance. Carefully, she tore off the paper and opened the box, seeing, to her disgust, more pink. It was a variety of beauty products from make-up to Sleekeazy's Hair Potion al organized in a wooden carrying case. Hermione picked up the card on top and read: To the only girl friend I have left. Happy Christmas! Love, Ginny.
Hermione looked over at the youngest Weasley with a raised eyebrow. She was already looking at her, so there was no use trying to avoid the fact that she had given her a present. “I bought it a few months ago.” She explained meekly, “Thought it would be nice to teach you how to use it one day.”
Hermione snorted and set it aside, “Maybe in another lifetime.” She mumbled. Hermione had never liked make-up and rarely wore it. The last time she remembered even purchasing the stuff was then she was fourteen and had a ball to prepare for at the Malfoy Manor.
The last present puzzled her to an extent. She knew that none of the other Weasley clan ad gotten her anything, as they had never met her before. So who would send her a Christmas present? She really hoped Draco wasn't pulling something funny by sending her a pair of revealing lingerie or something equally vulgar. Reluctantly, she picked up the gift examined it briefly. It was a variety of different bright colors, all in random patterns that appeared to be hand-drawn. Hermione tore off the odd wrapping and cardboard box to see a scarlet velvet case. Opening it, her eyes widened as she saw a miniature gray curled horn, not unlike that of a unicorn. There was a tag attached to it by a thin string and she read it silently to herself.
This should bring you luck in your troubles. The nargles have done their part, now it's time for you to do yours. Make sure to use it wisely, for it has been known to explode when you touch it too long. -Luna
Luna. Luna Lovegood had sent her a Christmas present—a present that looked like a horn that belonged on the head of some unknown creature that has yet to be discovered. That girl sure knew how to make an impact, she had to say. What exactly did she need luck in? There were no troubles, not that she had any knowledge of anyway. Her mission was going just fine and her personal life was… well, non-existent as of now, but that didn't really make much difference. Followers of the Dark Lord don't have personal lives; the Dark Lord is their life. It was a miracle that she had any knowledge about how to talk to people at all. But that wasn't the point; the point was that her dreamy-eyed friend thought that she was having troubles. The fact that this was bothering her was enough to drive her mad.
Unbeknownst to her, the presents had continues to unwrap after she had discovered Luna's note and no one seemed to be paying any mind to her. That was probably for the best, because she felt as though her mind was in the clouds. This must be what Luna felt like.
What am I doing?! I'm dwelling on something that a crazy blonde wrote on a Christmas card.—Well, you have a right to—What do you mean?—Well, it wasn't exactly spelled out for you, so you have a right to wonder what the hell she meant—That's true. But I still shouldn't be thinking about it this much—It's the most you've considered something that someone has told you in your life, don't beat yourself up over it.—And why not?—Because you weren't prepared. Simple as that. When you're not prepared for something, you think more about it afterward. Just like that kiss.
Hermione stopped her thoughts right there. She would not think about that kiss again. It was bad enough that it hadn't left the topmost of her thoughts yet. But she didn't think that this would last too long. It was only a phase. Every time she kissed someone, she would think about it. Granted, it would only be for a good day, day and a half… but she had been expecting the kiss. She felt her body relax. She had finally found the reason why she couldn't stop thinking about Harry and their kiss! Spontaneity. It was so simple that she had to restrain herself from running into the kitchen and placing her head into one of the cupboards and repeatedly slamming the door against her head.
The last of the presents were opened within that moment and Hermione could vaguely hear Ron asking when breakfast was going to be. Laughter rang out throughout the room and everyone made to go to the kitchen and eat. Hermione stayed behind for a moment before joining them. It would all be all right. It would all go away soon.
It was the day after new years and Hermione, Harry, Ron, and Ginny were all in a small compartment on the Hogwarts Express heading back to Hogwarts.
The goodbyes exchanged with the Weasley family had been anything but a simple hug and kiss on the cheek. Hermione had been spun around in midair a record three times and given seven sloppy kisses on each cheek. Every member of the family had told her to come back in the summertime and spend a few weeks with them and Hermione lied through her teeth once more by saying that she would. Of course, by that time, she would probably be on the Ministry's Most Wanted List.
The night before they were supposed to leave, Hermione found out why Fleur had had that look on her face when she fist walked into the living room. She and Bill were expecting their first child. Mrs. Weasley was ecstatic and literally jumped Bill in a monstrous hug, chiding him for not telling him sooner. It was a happy time for the Weasley family and Hermione couldn't have felt more out-of-place. Sure, these people were growing on her in ways that she feared they might, but they were a family. A foreign group that she seldom saw, if at all. Growing up without a family can make anyone feel awkward around others, even if they've had years to perfect a straight face. Even though there was still a muddled feeling around the bunch of red heads, she couldn't help but feel a small pull towards the Burrow.
Fred was right, after Christmas she didn't feel as strong of an urge to leave as she had at first. But there was work to be done back at Hogwarts and she needed to get it done before… well… before the Dark Lord contacted her and told her. She had a feeling that it was going to happen soon. And although she was still focused on her end, there was a part of her that didn't want this to some to an end. She was at school for the first time, she had friends, and she actually had a life that didn't consist of casualties that piled up because of her talent with a wand. Her wand was being used for charms and hexes that could really prepare her for becoming a better witch. All good things come to an end.
“So Hermione how'd you like the Burrow?” Ron asked.
Hermione looked straight ahead into his blue eyes and nodded, “It was lovely, Ron.”
He sent her a smile and leaned back into his seat, “I still can't believe that Bill and Fleur are having a kid, though.”
“Well they are married, Ron.” Harry said simply, “Married people have kids.”
“I know that.” Ron said sourly, “It's just weird is all.”
Ginny nodded, “I know how you feel. It seems like just yesterday that I still thought of Fleur as a stuck up bimbo during the Triwizard Tournament and now she's having my brother's baby.” Hermione snorted and Ginny snapped her head in her direction. “And what is so funny?”
“The whole situation is.” Hermione stated bluntly.
“I'm glad my family life is so humorous to you.” She said hotly.
Hermione opened her mouth to say something, but someone beat her to the punch.
“Cut it out Ginny.”
Ginny turned to Harry with a frustrated look, “Oh, so now you're defending her?”
Harry rolled his eyes, “You know I'm no—”
“Save it.” Ginny said coolly. “Just find another compartment when you want to shag each other, alright?”
“Quit it, Ginny.”
She narrowed her eyes, “Oh come on you know you want to.”
Hermione looked over at Harry who let out a sigh and lean back into his seat. Ginny didn't know a thing! She was sick and tired of her jealous attitude and sarcastic innuendos. It was best to just ignore her. She felt her right hand twitch towards where her wand was being kept in her right pocket. Control yourself. Her mind warned.
Ron leaned over to his sister and tried to speak in a hushed tone, “What's going on?”
Ginny, Harry, and Hermione answered simultaneously with a loud “Nothing.”
Ron puffed out his lips and slouched down, wishing he was anywhere but in that compartment.
He got his wish about a half an hour later when the train pulled into Hogsmeade Station. The tiny, dark platform served as a haven as the tension lifted from the three teenagers plus Ron. They grabbed their luggage and exited the train quickly, making their way towards the carriages at a jog. The ride up to the school was silent, no one even attempting to create conversation. As they approached the castle, Hermione felt a warm feeling spread throughout her body. She was home.
The dark horses came to a stop and Hermione pushed her way out of the carriage briskly, making a beeline for her dormitory so she could get some rest. In the entrance hall she saw friends exchanging hugs and telling each other about their holidays. She did her best not to create a scene as she quickly moved past them and towards the stairs. Through the hustle and bustle of the crowd, she didn't see the road block that she was about to hit in time to avoid it. She collided with a muscular chest and nearly knocked them both over. Luckily for her, she had her luggage to lean back on. She barely had time to glance upward when the tall figure pulled her down towards the dungeons. No one noticed them make their way through the crowd and as they reached the dark corridor, she let go of her trunk and slapped him in the face.
“Never do that again. You nearly pulled my arm out of the socket!” She rubbed her shoulder tenderly and glared up at Draco.
He shrugged nonchalantly, “Had to get you to come down with me somehow.”
“You could have signaled me or something!” She scorned.
“I did.” He said blatantly, “But you were storming through everyone like someone was chasing you.”
“I was anxious to get to bed, that's all.” She explained.
He crossed his arms, “Really.”
She scrunched her nose and looked at him with narrowed eyes, “Yes, really. Now what was so important that you had to drag me t—he wants to talk to me again, doesn't he?”
Draco nodded, “Yep.”
Hermione sighed, running a hand through her hair. She let it drop to her side and motioned to the opposite end of the hallway, “Fine. Lead the way.”
He started walking ahead of her and she picked up her trunk and rolled it behind her as the two of them made their way down the dark halls. The only sound as they walked was of the wheels making contact with the stone floor. Hermione felt tiredness set in as they closed into their destination, an empty classroom a hallway down from the potion's room. She hoped that this would be brief so that she could get to bed.
Draco opened the door for her and she went inside, setting her trunk to rest against a desk leg. She saw the stone basin atop the teacher's desk in the front of the room, emitting an eerie blue glow. Stepping up to the desk, she leaned down and watched as her master's head appeared in the liquid.
“Good evening, Hermione. I trust your holiday with the Weasley's went well?” he asked.
She didn't want to know how he found out about her stay with them during the break. “Oh yes, perfect.”
“You think you're getting closer to Potter, then?” he asked eagerly.
“A little too close for comfort.” She answered honestly.
He emitted a chuckle, “Well I can't say I sympathize. It's tough associating with blood traitors. I myself know I could never be capable of completing such a task. But you, my dear, are really doing a superb job.”
“Is that the reason you keep contacting me, to tell me I'm doing a good job?” she asked.
“Of course not.”
He gave her a look. It almost looked like he was either scrutinizing her or pitying her. “I have my reasons.” Hermione opened her mouth but was cut short, “That are none of your concern. You just keep pressing forward. And remember to never let his trust for you waver. Do whatever you have to so that you can be his number one accomplice.”
Hermione nodded, “I will.”
His image faded into the basin and Hermione turned back to Draco, who was sitting atop a desk and staring at her intently. “Why does he insist on checking up on me like I'm a three-year-old?”
“He just wants to make sure that you're alright.”
Hermione crossed her arms over her chest and turned around so he couldn't see her face contort to listlessness, “He's not my father.”
Hermione took a deep breath and turned back around. “I'm fine, Draco. I'll just go get some sleep.”
He put a hand on her should her and gave a small squeeze, “Remember, I'm right here if you need me.”
She nodded, “Yeah, I know. But I won't.”
“Right. You won't.”
She walked off and felt his eyes on her back. It was as if everyone thought she was a porcelain doll that wasn't capable of doing anything. First the Dark Lord, and now Draco. She was fine, she was doing fine. Harry trusted her. Now that he and Ginny were fighting and it was apparent that they couldn't not talk to each other, her position was now set in stone. School was about to start so Harry should be out of her thoughts by the end of next week.
A/N: Hello all! Sorry for the slow updates, but HPFF isn't my top priority at the moment. I've moved on, so to speak. But I will continue to update, just not as quickly as some of you would like. I also haven't had time to answer every review like I used to be able to do. But just know that I am so thankful that you guys like the story so much and are sticking by it!
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