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Flesh Memory by gocnocturna
Chapter 9 : Crying on Christmas
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 25


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Chapter 9- Crying on Christmas

AN: Please read and review, I’m trying to balance happy with sad, hope it works. J
 


The four days after the ball but before Christmas were spent playing games as a family. Hermione went to the hospital every day, bringing a different game with her every time. They played Monopoly, which her father won easily, Scrabble, which Hermione won hands down, and lots of Blokus, which her mother liked very much and at which she almost always triumphed.
 

Two days before Christmas her father asked to talk to her alone for a minute. Hermione obliged and they went on a walk through the halls of the hospital together. Hermione turned towards her father.

 

“What did you want to talk to me about?”

 

Her dad looked a bit uncomfortable. “Well, it’s about Christmas. See, I hadn’t really thought about it much, or, I have, but not in the extension of thinking about you, or, I mean…”

 

Hermione would have laughed if she hadn’t been worried it was something really serious. “Dad, just relax, I’m sure whatever it is you have to say is fine and that I will understand, just sit down and tell me.” They sat on a nearby bench; he turned to speak to her again.
 

“It’s just, I know that things don’t look all that great right now. I know that the doctors have explained it to you the same way that they have to you, that this could easily be your mother’s last Christmas. I hate thinking about it like this, but I compared it a bit to like, when I was twenty or so, my great uncle was in his nineties. He said that since he was in his ‘terminal decade’, as he liked to call it, he did not want any useless things. He didn’t need stuff. He wanted to do stuff. He wanted a trip to go fishing, he wanted us to visit more often, but he didn’t want material goods. He told us, ‘what good would that do him, he was old as dirt’. Now, I know that your mother is nothing like him. She is young and should have a lot more time with us. But I don’t think that she will. So I went with the idea of non-material goods for Christmas. But I didn’t think to talk to you about what you would be getting her for Christmas. It’s ok if you did get her stuff; I just wanted you to understand why I got her what I got her.” Her dad looked nervous; like he was worried she would be upset by what he said.
 


“It’s ok dad. I’m not naïve.” She reached out to touch his arm lightly, so he would know she wasn’t saying she thought he was calling her naïve. “I know what the doctors are saying and I realized when shopping, how useless and meaningless anything I could get her would be. I’m not going to tell you what I got her, it’s a secret, but I promise, it works. I really think she is going to like it, hopefully love it. Thanks for your concern dad. I know you’ve been really struggling with this all, I don’t blame you at all. I’m managing. I had some trouble when I first found out, but a good friend of mine helped me through it.”
 

Her dad looked at her quizzically. “How did they help you through it, I’d love to know the secret.”
 

Hermione looked at her dad sadly. “I’m not sure my method will work for you. I cried. I cried a lot. I even screamed a little. And my friend, he just held me. He didn’t ask questions. He didn’t tell me that it was all going to be alright. He didn’t shush me or tell me to calm down. He just held me and let me get it all out. It really helped, in a way nothing else has.”
 

Her dad smiled a bit. “Sounds like you’ve got a good friend in him. Was it Harry or Ron?”
 

Hermione shook her head. “No, it was this other guy, we only just became friends this year.” Her dad nodded understandingly.
 

“Well, he sounds like a keeper, a really top notch friend.” They hugged a bit before returning to the hospital room where Hermione’s mother was staying.
 

Hermione added the finishing touches to her mother’s present. She had had to unwrap it after going to the ball, since her ‘getting ready with mom’ memories definitely needed to be included. She re-wrapped it and packed up her presents to go to the hospital.
 

The doctors had told them that her mother was too sick to spend Christmas at home, so they set up a fake tree in the corner of her mother’s hospital room and piled the presents under there. They decorated the room like they always decorated the living room at home. As far as the Granger family was concerned, it was Christmas as usual, just with a slightly unconventional locale.
 

Post-ball Hermione had received another letter from Damien.
 

Dear Grace,

Did you go to the ball? I know you won’t respond, as you are on hiatus, but I have to ask. I’m assuming you did, since almost everyone did. It was amazing. I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I finally tried Oreo Pie. You were right, it’s really good. Maybe someday I’ll try an Oreo. I hope you had a good day, whether you went or not.

 I’m trying to send my gift along with this letter, I hope it works. You are forbidden from opening it before Christmas. Well, you couldn’t even if you wanted to; I put a charm on it to keep the wrapping sealed until Christmas morning. So, no cheating. I hope you like it, but if you don’t, feel free to return it. I can honestly say that I don’t have much background in buying gifts for girls.

So, after Christmas break we are going to be allowed to tell one another what house we are from. Are you nervous? ‘Cause I kind of am. I just ask that you judge me based on our correspondences. I must say, these letters between us, they are more ‘me’ than anyone has ever seen, so tread lightly. I really have never been so honest in my life. You should feel honored. haha. Anyway, I have begun to ramble. I sincerely wish you a fantastic Christmas and hope to receive the joy of returned correspondence with you once school starts again.

Questions for the future- would you rather dance everywhere you go or sing everything you want to say? What is your favorite thing to wear?

Yours,

Damien
 

Damien had indeed succeeded in sending his gift, which meant Hermione would be able to send hers. She placed his under the tree at the hospital with all the others; after, of course, she had explained to her mother what mysterious boy was sending her presents.
 

Christmas finally arrived. Hermione slept in, knowing that her mother needed her sleep, and headed to the hospital around noon. Her mother was just eating her breakfast and offered for Hermione to join.
 

“No thanks mom. You may like that stuff, heck, dad loves cafeteria food, but I like real food. I ate at the house before coming.” She smiled at her mother and took a seat beside her. She then looked over at the tree. There was a plethora of gifts there. “Mom, where in the world did all those gifts come from?”
 

Her mother shrugged. “I’m assuming most are for you from your wizard friends, since they just appeared overnight.” Her mother whispered the word ‘wizard’, scared someone might overhear.
 

“Oh,” Hermione was surprised, they couldn’t possibly be all for her. “Sorry to crowd up your room.” They shared grins.
 

Hermione’s father came in then, as expected, with a plate of food from the cafeteria. He offered some to Hermione, much like her mother had, and she reiterated her argument.
 

“Ready to open presents kiddo?” Her father took the seat on the other side of her mother’s bed after closing the door.
 

“Sure, I’ll be the present fetcher, since you’re both eating.” No one mentioned that the reason her mother couldn’t fetch presents was not because she was eating. They were determined to have a fun, normal Christmas. Hermione quickly doled out all of the gifts. She did have a large pile, but a lot of them were for her parents and many for her mother, so she didn’t feel too bad.
 

They took turns opening their gifts from their various family members. Once that was done they moved onto non-family member gifts, leaving their gifts for each other for last.
 

“Hermione dearest, who is Draco Malfoy?”
 

Hermione looked at her mother in confusion. “Um, a guy from school. He’s Head Boy this year. Why?”
 

Her mother was looking at a rather large, oddly shaped gift in her hands. “Well, he sent your father and I a gift. I didn’t think I had met him.”
 

Hermione was thoroughly confused. “You haven’t. I don’t know why he sent you a gift, I didn’t even think he was sending me one.” She riffled through her gifts quickly. “Oh, here it is. He sent me one too. I mean, I sent him one, but I honestly didn’t expect one in return. What did he get you guys?”
 

Her mother opened the gift. “Oh, how sweet. Look, it’s a lovely basket filled with chocolates and sweets. You know, I don’t recognize any of these, are they from your world dear?”
 

Hermione peeked into the basked. “Yes, that’s Honeyduke’s chocolates, they are the best. But I have to warn you, the chocolate frogs really jump, so don’t open them when another Muggle is around, and the every flavored beans really have every flavor, so be warned.”
 

Her mother smiled at her as she set the gift basket on the floor by her bed. “What did he get for you?”
 

Hermione looked down at the gift in her hands and went to open it. She undid the wrapping to reveal a box. She opened the lid to find a few different components to the gift. First and foremost was tea. He had gotten her “Raspberry Shortcake” tea. Additionally there was an envelope and a note. She read the note first.
 

It read:
 

“Hermione, you might not remember it, but the first day we had tea I told you that the best tea I had ever had was one that tasted just like raspberry shortcake. Well, I found it again, so here you go. Hope it helps you over the break. The envelope is also something from the first time we had tea, hope you remember. ~Draco Malfoy”
 

Hermione hastened to open the envelope. Inside was an elegantly designed piece of paper with an official looking Malfoy crest on it, signed by Draco, himself. It stated, in big, bold, green letters that “I, Draco Malfoy, owe one, Hermione Granger, a favor of her choosing for returning me safely to my home. This favor can be anything and at any time.” Hermione chuckled a bit, turning to her parents.
 

“We drink tea during our Heads’ meetings, and he had once mentioned that this was the best tea he had ever had. I guess he thought I would like to try it. It’s kind of funny, since I sent him tea too.”
 

Her parents smiled and they all moved one. Hermione got the typical guy gift of sweets from Ron and Harry got her a book. The book had no title, so Hermione was confused at first. Fortunately, Harry anticipated this and he attached a note. The note explained that it was not a book, rather a book holder. If she opened it and set a book in it, it would absorb it. It could hold up to two thousand volumes of all sizes and the cover would hold an index of all the texts it held. She needed only to tap the name of the text she wanted with her wand and it would come to the top and she could read it. Hermione was very impressed. Ginny had gotten her a very pretty sundress with a note saying that Hermione needed to dress up more often as she was very pretty.
 

When they finally got to the end of the pile, Harry, Ron, and Ginny having sent gifts to Hermione’s parents as well, Hermione had one gift left before getting to her family gifts. It was labeled “To Grace, From Damien”. Hermione smiled as she went to opened it.
 

Damien had gotten her a mug, like a coffee mug. It was black on the bottom and gradually faded to dark purple and from there it faded even further until the rim was a delicate, light purple. Her favorite colors; he remembered. The mug was not empty however, as it was filled with a bag. Inside the bag were various ingredients, including what looked to be crushed Oreo pieces. Hermione was confused until she noticed the corner of white paper peeking out from behind the bag. She pulled it forward and found it to be a recipe for Oreo Hot Chocolate. She laughed. It was a combination of two of the things she had told him she liked. It was perfect. Hermione set her mug off to the side before turning to her parents.
 

“Family presents time?” They nodded. This part they did in turns traditionally. “Dad, how about you go first?” He obliged.
 

“Oh, Hermione, this watch is great!” He grinned as he put it on. “I really needed a new one.”
 

“Yeah, I noticed.” Once her dad had opened his present from her mother, a new tie and an iPad, he turned to his daughter.
 

“Hermione, you go next.”
 

Wanting her gift for her mother to be opened last, Hermione was glad that her dad had suggested she go next. Her dad had gotten her a silver picture frame in the shape of a heart that said “Daddy’s Girl” and had a picture of the two of them when Hermione was six or so in it. He also got her a necklace; it was a simple silver chain with a pendant in the shape of a Hershey’s kiss that said “Kisses” on it. Hermione hugged her father tightly. Her mother had given her a jewelry box with various pieces of jewelry in it already. All the pieces looked old, as did the box itself. Her mother explained.
 

“This box, and the jewelry in it, has been passed down in my family, from mother to daughter, for many generations. Each owner adds a new piece of jewelry to it before passing it on. I added my bracelet that I wore when I married your father. I hope you get to pass it on to a daughter some day.”
 

Hermione was beyond touched. She knew, deep in her heart, that if it hadn’t been for the cancer that she probably would have gotten it for a wedding present or upon the birth of her first child, but she loved it. It was a bit sad, but she didn’t let that get to her. She hugged her mother as tightly as she felt was safe, given her mother’s weakened state.
 

“Thanks mom, it’s perfect. Now, it’s your turn. Open dads’ first, mine last.”
 

Her mother complied. Hermione’s dad had gotten his wife an appointment at a Day Spa that was near the hospital. He had worked it out with the doctors to make it possible for her to enjoy a day of pampering. He had also written her a letter. It was really long, around four pages, and Hermione never found out what it said, but it had her mother crying and reaching out for a hug. Hermione blushed and looked at her gifts for a minute as her parents enjoyed a private, romantic moment. They were such teenagers sometimes. Once they were done, Hermione’s gift to her mother was the only one left.
 

Her mother unwrapped it slowly. Once it was entirely unwrapped she stared at the cover for a minute. The cover was a picture of the three of them, a few years back, dressed in their Sunday best, right before going to church for Easter.
 

“Since we are the only ones in here right now, you can press the button on the top to open it, if there are other Muggles around when you want to look at it you should press the button on the bottom instead. You’ll see why.” She smiled at her mother as she pressed the top button and opened up the book.
 

Hermione was rewarded with a small gasp as her mother saw the moving photographs. Her parents looked through the whole album together in silence for a few minutes while Hermione looked on. Finally, her mother looked up with tears in her eyes. Her father’s eyes were glistening as well.

“Oh, Hermione, this is wonderful. How did you do this? I know some of these times we did not have a camera.” Hermione explained the process of memory photography to her parents while hugging her mom. They spent most of the rest of the day just going through the album, photo-by-photo, and reminiscing about each memory. It was the best Christmas Hermione could remember, despite all the tears.   

 


Back at the castle, where he had decided to stay over Christmas, Draco Malfoy sat on the couch in the Heads’ common room. He had set up a tree in the corner of the room and had the house elves provide enough food to last all day. Being a Slytherin and a Malfoy on top of that, he didn’t get many presents. Blaise and Pansy had sent him stereotypical gifts of decadent chocolates from Blaise and the best fruit in the wizarding world from Pansy. His house elves at the manor had surprised him by sending him a well preserved and protected gift of their best homemade chocolate cake with a note telling ‘Master Malfoy’ to have a good Christmas and thanking him for being so good to them. Draco was surprised, but it was not unwelcome. He got raspberry chocolate and Oreos from his pen pal, which he found amusing. He had told her that he like raspberries, that he had a sweet tooth, and that he would have to try Oreos ‘someday’, so it was all very well thought out. It made him feel better about his gift for her.


Last, but certainly not least, he got a gift from Hermione. He had been hesitant to send her one, not wanting to appear more investing in their odd friendship than she was, but after the whole pre-Christmas ordeal with her crying all over him, he decided that his cover was blown anyway. He was pleasantly astonished that she, too, had felt they were close enough to give and receive gifts. She had sent him a very fancy kind of tea. He had immediately asked a house elf to make him a cup. It tasted like a blissful blend of chocolate and a cappuccino. She had included a note that called him a ‘tea obsessed freak’ with a small smiley face drawn next to it. Draco smiled despite himself.


AN: Hope this wasn’t too sad. I am being totally honest. There was nothing written for this chapter, then I got two reviews, they inspired me, and out popped the chapter. So keep reviewing, it honestly helps loads. Please read and review! Thanks go out to AriesGirl40 for inspiring the split chapter that gave a glimps of Draco at Hogwarts. I don’t know if it worked or not, so please let me know in a review. Also, someone said they were confused by my organization of statements with reactions to said statements, so I’m trying this format out, let me know if you like this better or if it doesn’t matter. Thanks! You guys are the best!


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