Malfoy Manor’s grandfather clock was striking and chiming relentlessly.
Draco awoke placing his hand to his throat, making sure no one was choking him, because that’s exactly what it felt like. His hand moved to his wet face, wiping the tears that had fallen while in his deep sleep. His head throbbed mercilessly and his throat hurt from the raw emotions that the dream had evoked.
He’d had plenty of nightmares before, but this one… this one by far… led him down the saddest path his mind had ever taken him.
He sat up from the sofa slowly, placing both elbows to his knees, one hand at his forehead as he pondered the dark, solemn dream.
A guttural moan escaped him as he recalled the pain he had caused his Granger, causing her to lose their child over something so completely senseless and unnecessary. He thought maybe he shouldn't take it so literally and look at it figuratively. Maybe the baby was their relationship? He didn't know what to think... bloody stupid dreams.
Draco sat half shocked that the unexpected was what had sent him over the edge of not being able to suppress, control, or own his emotions. It was something that he actually worked on. It had been a weakness of his that he hated.
He had vowed to work on that weakness until it became his strength... maintain control at all times and not over-react to any given situation.
So why would he cave in a dream set in the future? It was something he would take note of... something about himself to analyze and figure out how to combat later. As of right now, there were more important things to think about.
He knew that dreams were tricky things. They were either nothing at all, prophecy, or a complicated mixture of both. What scared him most was thinking that even dreams of Muggles came true on rare occasion. And so that meant he had to take action to make absolutely certain that it couldn’t possibly be prophecy.
In his dream, his grandfather told him that the only way to fix everything was to forgive his father. But he wasn’t sure if he could do it. There would have to be a 'Plan B' or a remedy that was two-fold, partly forgiveness, partly personal intervention.
When he finally opened his eyes to look at the clock, he saw that it was only just after midnight.
He looked up at his grandfather’s portrait to find the old Malfoy glaring down at him.
“Grandfather, you wouldn’t happen to know anything about my dream, would you?” Draco asked.
“Have an effect on you, did it?” the old man replied rather blankly.
“Look, I don’t know if any of that would really come to pass, but I do think nine years of suffering through Christmas is long enough."
“Very wise, my grandson. Very wise indeed.”
Draco wanted to do something. What if this really was his last Christmas with his mother and father? If this was the last, he’d try to make it a memorable one. Especially for his mother, since she hadn’t deserved the brunt of his stubbornness all these years. It would make her happy if he somehow made amends with his father, if only a little bit.
His thoughts went to the other task at hand... Intervention. He thought of how Granger was most likely at the Weasley's and quickly devised a plan that would have her practically begging to be alone with him at Hogwarts.
“Trinket! Skippen!” he called for two of his house elves.
“Yes, Master?” Skippen questioned as he magically appeared.
“Trinket is here. Trinket is just a bit upset, sir. It is late on Christmas Eve, sir.”
“I’ll make it up to you, Trinket,” Draco voiced into the air. “I promise. Right now, I really need your decorating expertise. Please help me turn this place into something magical for Christmas.” He knew Trinket loved to decorate.
“Decorating, sir?” she magically appeared.
“I’m tired of Christmas being so dull and depressing at the Manor. I want you two to gather all the other house elves and turn this place into the most festive we’ve ever had. Starting with moving the Christmas tree,” he told her in a kind manner.
Trinket smiled then and with the snap of her fingers, the tree was hovering two feet off the floor. “Where to, Master?” she asked excitedly.
“Anywhere but in the same place it has always been. I can’t stand to look at it in that spot anymore.”
“How about in front of the palladium window? If it pleases you, sir."
“Perfect. Do your best decorating magic, Trinket. Have twelve trees in the Manor if need be.”
He saw Trinket’s little face light up with a wide grin.
“What would you have Skippen do, sir?” his personal house elf asked.
“I need the kitchen elves to make cinnamon rolls and cookies and any other delightful Christmasy-type food they can make for tomorrow night’s dinner. Have them set the table for thirteen,” he instructed. “Oh, and I need you to summon Dobby tonight,” he added, as if it would be an easy request.
“But Dobby’s a free elf, sir. Skippen might not be able to coax Dobby back to the Manor, sir.”
“I know. But tell him father is not here and I need him to help his friend, Harry Potter have a good Christmas.”
“Skippen will try, Master.”
“Good. Do it now and come right back.”
“Yes, Master. Skippen will try to summon Dobby.”
Draco went back to thinking about gifts. His mind raced at the possibilities at what he could give them at such a ridiculous short notice.
He went into his mother’s jewelry cabinet and easily guessed the password to unlock it. Once unlocked, he opened the drawer to where she kept mismatched earrings, loose stones, and broken jewelry. There was so much, he decided to just take the entire drawer.
After re-locking the cabinet, he went to the elves’ quarters and called out, “Tauller!”
“Yes, Master,” the oldest of the Malfoy elves appeared as if very tired and worn out.
“Tauller, I know that you formerly belonged to a jeweler before father won you in a Wizard’s Poker game. I need you to fashion a ring and a pendant from this old jewelry. Can you do this?” he asked as he spilled the lot of it onto a side table.
The elf’s eyes grew wide in excitement. Draco watched as the old elf came to life, seemingly losing years of his age, as he displayed signs of being downright giddy. He clasped his hands together.
“Oh, Tauller loves the work, Master. Tauller will do a good job. It's a promise, it is.”
Draco gave him more specific instructions as to what he wanted, which required some research on the old elf’s part. When he nodded in understanding, Draco left Tauller to work his jewelry magic using Narcissa’s scraps.
He then remembered the book Granger wanted. He knew he had it. It was just a matter of finding it. That and asking permission from a member of the Malfoy family to remove it from the collection.
Once in the vast expanse of the Malfoy library, he used the Accio charm to summon it from its shelf. Sure enough it came out flying toward him, landing directly into his hand.
"I do love magic," he acknowledged as he headed back toward Abraxas Malfoy's portrait.
“Grandfather,” Draco addressed. “I’d like to get permission to give this book to Hermione Granger.” He held it up.
“Delilah’s Black Book of Poems? That was your grandmother’s. She loved that book. It is dangerous, you know.”
“I am aware of its danger. And honestly, Granger is the only one I know that I would fully trust with it. In my dream, she became a Malfoy. If there’s any truth to it, the book will be returned to its rightful place in the family library eventually,” he reasoned, hoping that would sway his grandfather.
“Hmm...” the old man carefully pondered the book’s message and what Draco had said of his dream. But more importantly, what he had said earlier that evening to the pureblood witch in the mural over-head. And after a few moments of deliberation, he made his decision.
“Alright, I’ll allow it. But you must promise to personally remind her of its danger and be sure that she locks it with a proper enchantment.”
“I will. Thank you, Grandfather.”
With the poetry book in tow, there was another book that Draco wanted. With a copy already in the family library, the twin copy was in a storage crate in the attic, which meant he didn’t need permission to take it.
His parents had both gone to Hogwarts at the same time, causing them to have duplicate school yearbooks.
Once in the attic, he quickly searched for the crates he had seen long ago. He knew they were still there somewhere. When he found the one that was labeled Narcissa Black – Hogwarts, he popped off the top of the crate and pulled out the books. He was looking, searching for a glimpse of James Potter and Lily Evans. And he found them alright.
Draco glanced at the moving pictures. His father was a Prefect and five years older than Harry’s parents. There were others he recognized; Snape, Lupin, Wormtail, even Blaise’s mother. Lupin had just beat James at Wizard’s Chess. Snape was standing close beside Lily in what looked like a potions class.
Draco noticed then something a bit odd. It was Snape with a rather peculiar look directed at Lily. “Snape and Lily?” Draco questioned to himself. He decided not to read anything into it and snapped it closed. They were all so unbelievably young.
He grabbed the book and popped the top of the crate back in place and quickly left the attic.
Draco went to his room then in his quest to find more things to give away. He gathered professional Quidditch team paraphernalia that he had entirely too much of. There was more than enough for everyone in the Weasley household and he took all of it into his arms and walked down the hall to the balcony overlooking the great room.
As he came to the railing, he looked down below to find a cautious looking Dobby standing near Skippen.
“Dobby, Skippen! Here, catch this!” he told them as he heaved everything over the railing and let go.
They magically caught the bundle in the air and set it all gently on the table for Trinket to wrap.
“Wonderful to see you again, Dobby!” Draco smiled and Dobby’s eyes grew even larger than normal. As Draco stomped down the stairs hurriedly, he apologized.
“Dobby, I hope you forgive me for summoning you on Christmas Eve. But I have reason to believe that Harry Potter is at the Weasley’s house tonight and I don’t even know where they live, which is why I need you to deliver these gifts for me and place them under their tree. They must not be aware that they are from me. It’s a secret. Can you do this? Will you help me deliver gifts to your friend, Harry Potter?” his former master asked with a sense of urgency.
“Yes, but Dobby is concerned for Draco. Are you ill, old Master?”
“Ill? No. I’ve never felt better,” Draco answered as he realized that his headache from earlier was now completely gone.
“It’s just that the Malfoys haven’t had a happy Christmas since before you know what happened,” Dobby said knowingly.
“Yes. I know.” Draco replied, bending down to his former house elf. “But I don’t want to let what happened ruin any more of my Christmases, Dobby. I have a lifetime ahead of me and I’d rather look forward to them than dread them. Years from now, I’d like to think that I became a better person than father was.”
“Dobby thinks you already are, sir."
“Thank you. Does that mean you’ll help your old Master then?”
“Dobby would be pleased to help Draco deliver gifts to Harry Potter.”
“Wonderful.” Draco smiled, which only served to frighten Dobby a little, not accustomed to it.
The next evening, Draco’s Christmas with his parents went precisely as he expected.
“While I hate what happened, I feel the need to not let it ruin my Christmas forever,” he told his father. “So, I’m forgiving you. That’s the only gift I have for you, I’m afraid.”
Lucius was puzzled, but pleased.
“I’m glad you finally came to your senses after nine years,” he sneered.
But then he extended a professional handshake to his son and Draco accepted it.
“Come, have dinner with us.” Draco's lips curled into a smirk, knowing full well his father would hate eating with his guests.
Draco’s mother, Narcissa loved everything the elves did to the place. And she just couldn’t stop looking at her pendant made from her old jewelry. It was fashioned with channel-set baguette shaped diamonds and emeralds perfectly fitted into a silver Malfoy family crest. It was dazzling.
She couldn’t have been happier at that moment, seeing her husband and son shaking hands to make amends. The change in Draco was heartwarming and wonderful.
And she didn’t mind at all dining with their ten house elves. They didn’t have the best table manners, but she didn’t care. They seemed so happy, they were like children.
Lucius tolerated the beasts at his table, but only to show respect for Draco and Narcissa. He kept rolling his eyes and sneering at them while losing his appetite.
Draco was immensely amused watching his father sitting so uncomfortably. In contrast, Draco was having fun with them, conversing. And in return they shared stories and folklore of their ancestors, talking of the lost art of bending light and sending it to far away places.
He was shocked at how much a house elf could eat. It’s a good thing they made plenty.
He had invited Dobby, of course, but their former house elf politely and understandably declined. There’s no telling what Lucius would’ve done to him.
Draco considered the evening quite successful. His mother was smiling, the house elves loved him for their exceptionally good treatment- actually eating with and having dinner at the Master’s formal table, and Lucius was, well... just Lucius.
Draco couldn’t change his father, but he successfully changed a bit of himself that day.
It was a Christmas miracle of sorts.
And when they all had their fill, the elves busied themselves cleaning up the mess they made in the dining room, while Draco's thoughts went somewhere else.
He wondered what Hermione Granger was doing on Christmas night. Was she lonely? Was she reading his gift to her perhaps?
Late in the evening, Draco found himself in the very room that started the whole endeavor; the room that held his grandfather’s portrait.
“Well done, Grandson,” the old Malfoy voiced with pride. “I saw that you made amends. It felt good didn’t it?”
“I suppose,” Draco took in a deep breath and exhaled. “I can’t possibly forgive everything in one day, you understand. It’s not at all possible with everything… but I do feel as though a burden has been lifted, if only slightly.”
“We are emotional creatures, the Malfoys, whether we show it or not. We can do one thing in an instant to make someone hate us. But love, Draco, true love can take years for us to grow.”
Draco picked up on the slight change in subjects. “What are you referring to exactly?”
“I’m referring to the recipient of your grandmother’s poetry book.”
“What about her?”
“It was smart of you to plant a seed, Grandson. A seed that will grow with patience and time. Trying to start a relationship with her before an impending war would be disastrous.”
Draco’s gaze moved downward to the plush carpet at his feet. “She is a Muggle-born, Grandfather. She is hardly marriage material.”
“Did that dog teach you nothing?” the old man asked in a raspy irritated voice.
Draco’s head snapped to the portrait, bewildered. Could the old Malfoy truly be questioning him about his dog, Stella?
“Was Stella of pure blood?” his grandfather asked with a familiar smirk.
“No. She was a mutt.”
“Did it make her any less of a dog?” he asked with eyebrows raised.
“No.” Draco grew irritated.
“Did her blood status cause you to love her any less?”
“No!” he yelled. “Tell me, Grandfather, did you plant that dog on the Malfoy grounds so that I’d learn this lesson of yours?”
“I might have,” he answered, half-heartedly confessing in a non-guilty sort of way.
Draco’s eyes glared at the portrait. “Was my grandmother a true Pureblood or is this all a charade?”
“She was, as I am, your father is, and you are.”
“So why the lesson? Were you in love with a Mudblood?”
“I prefer the term Muggle-born and at this point, it doesn’t matter.”
“If it doesn’t matter, then tell me,” he glared, folding his arms to his chest.
His grandfather let out a sigh. “Yes. I did. A lifetime ago.”
“My own grandfather, a blood traitor? Pardon me, while I let that one sink in.”
The thought was incredible, really. With all the hatred he’d been taught since birth, Draco had begun to think that maybe he was the only weak link in the seemingly infinite pure-blood chain… the only one with thoughts of loving a forbidden outcast. Somehow, the revelation made him feel a little more normal and that he wasn’t crazy after all. But it didn’t relieve any of the burden or the consequences.
“Let me be clear, Grandson. I loved your grandmother dearly, but she was the second great love of my life, as I was her second great love as well. Matters of the heart are quite complicated and I know all too well what crushing family obligations can do to someone.”
Draco contemplated that for a moment, wondering if Lucius knew this about his own father. No matter now, he figured. It wasn’t like he was going to bring it up in conversation… ever.
He took in a deep breath and exhaled slowly.
“It doesn’t really matter,” Draco finally said. “She could never love me back. I’ve been nothing but mean and nasty to her, and truthfully, once the war has started, we’ll be on opposite sides and any hope of her love will be as dead as… well… as dead as you are… so to speak.”
“Which is why you need to plant seeds, Draco. Giving her that book was perfect. You only need to give her miles of patience, walk a slow road, and hope that someday when the time is right, you’ll meet again.”
“Grandfather, you sound as though giving her that book was part of some grand future scheme. Truly it wasn’t.”
“If you would’ve read a single page of that book, maybe you would’ve realized the significance of it.”
“It’s simply a book she’s wanted for years,” Draco explained, full of doubt.
“It’s a book about a man’s heart. She’ll inadvertently learn more about you than you could ever possibly teach her.”
Draco grew quiet then. His headache had returned from lack of sleep and he decided it was time to call it a night.
“Merry Christmas and goodnight, Grandfather. Never a dull conversation with you,” he commented walking out.
As he trudged up the stairs to his room, he had much to ponder. His grandfather had loved a Muggle-born and he had planted Stella as a lesson for him? Good grief. And how could an antique book possibly teach Hermione Granger anything about Draco Malfoy?
As he dove under the heavy blankets of his bed, Draco thought of his plans that were well underway. He had forgiven his father somewhat, the gifts had been delivered to the Weasley household that morning, and the rest would have to wait until he got back to Hogwarts.
As he lay on his preferred left side of the bed, Draco thought of the conversation he might have with Granger when he got back to Hogwarts. He was so tired, he found himself dozing off and then opening his eyes to wake again. But as he did, she magically appeared on the right side of his bed as if she were sleeping. He wasn’t startled at all, as he knew she wasn’t real. At first he thought he was in a dream, but then realized that it was more like a hallucination.
He blinked slowly, but when he opened his eyes for the last time, she was gone.
‘That was strange,’ he thought, just before drifting off into a dreamless sleep.
Well... that wasn't too painful, was it? Draco is setting the stage to get Hermione alone to prevent his dreadful dream.
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