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                                                                                                       Chapter 3: Mistletoe Mishap

She sang softly to herself, crooning the lyrics of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” She’d always loved the holidays and the sight of Hogsmeade decked to the halls was one that made her smile so wide her cheeks ached. Everywhere she looked Christmas trees glittered in windows and store-fronts. Strands of festive lights had been wrapped around every lamp post and strung between every building.

When she went into Scrivenshaft’s Quill Shop, Christmas carols were playing loudly. She browsed the shelves cheerfully, stopping to pick up and admire some of the many fancy quills for purchase. She stopped when she came across a simple owl-feather quill. It had been dyed a soft shade of pinky-purple, the shaft decorated with several small snowflake jewels. It was simply lovely and despite the price, Hermione decided to treat herself. She couldn’t resist picking up a Christmas themed quill that was on special when she went up to pay.

She was preoccupied with placing the pair of new quills inside her bag alongside her packets of sugar quills and Hermione didn’t realise she was about to walk right into someone until it was too late.

“Oi! Watch where you’re going!” an all too familiar voice drawled, strong hands coming up to grip her shoulders and push her back to arm’s length.

“Malfoy?” Hermione asked, blinking in shock at literally running into the boy.

“Watch it, Granger,” he warned her, levelling one of his smirks her way.

Movement in the corner of her eye sent Hermione skittering backwards in horror, a gasp leaving her lips. Her eyes went wide at the sight he made in the doorway and Hermione could only feel thankful she’d reacted quickly enough to keep from being ensnared.

“Scared of me Granger?” he asked smugly at her reaction.

“Not at all,” Hermione disagreed, “Though I must admit, I’m amused.”

“Amused?” he asked, narrowing his eyes a little bit.

Hermione pointed in silence, watching with a sense of glee when he tipped his head back to stare in horror at the sight of a large frond of mistletoe growing above his head. Hermione had skittered away fast enough that she hadn’t become trapped along with him, but Draco Malfoy was entirely stuck. And would remain that way until someone took pity on him and kissed him to set him free.

“Oh Salazar’s bloody hat!” he exclaimed, anger marring his features.

Hermione began to giggle when he pulled out his wand and shot a burning hex at the mistletoe. All he succeeded in doing was making the plant scatter the snow-white berries all over his head. Hermione laughed harder when one hit him in the eye.

“Knock it off, Granger,” he warned her furiously when Hermione doubled over with laughter.

“Why don’t you try vanishing it next?” she choked out, knowing that Vanishing it would make it start to sing.

When Malfoy took her word for it, clearly not knowing much about magical mistletoe, Hermione cried with glee, tears of mirth trickling down her face. She had to grip the nearest display shelf just to keep her balance she was laughing so hard while the obnoxious little plant began shrilly singing Frosty the Snowman.

“Oh for Merlin’s sake!” Malfoy snarled, looking horrified and utterly wrathful.

Hermione could barely see for laughing.

“I don’t know what you’re bloody laughing at Granger,” he told her, levelling a glare in her direction when he realised there was only going to be one way for him to get out of the doorway and out from under the ensnarement of the wicked little plant.

“You’re stuck,” Hermione chortled, “And no one ever comes in here.”

“And guess what Granger?” he said and Hermione glanced at him, noticing that though he looked annoyed about being laughed at he also looked mildly amused by the fact that she was literally hooting with laughter.

“What?” she managed eventually.

“This is the only way in or out of Scrivenshaft’s,” he pointed out helpfully, “Which means that unless you want to stay in here forever, you’re going to get just as stuck as I am…. Unless you snog me.”

“Ew,” Hermione wrinkled her nose at him, a feeling of horror sweeping through her as she glanced around the store. The elderly store cloak smiled at her helpfully, “Excuse me sir, is there another exit I could use?”

“Sorry, dear,” the old man apologised, “The lad’s right. That door’s the only way in or out. You want to get out of here, you’ll have to kiss him or stay here until someone else comes by.”

“Maybe I could go out the window?” Hermione asked, gesturing to the front display window.

“They don’t open, love. Magically sealed since Merlin only knows how long.”

“Oh no,” Hermione said, covering her face with her hands in horror.

Surely this couldn’t be happening?

“Serves you right for laughing at me, and telling me to Vanish it so it would make this bloody racket!” Malfoy sneered at her, leaning in the doorway and looking entirely too smug for his own good.

“Oh, it serves me right?” Hermione asked, her temper flaring immediately, “You realise that unless someone else happens to wander down here you’re going to have to snog me, right Malfoy? What would you Father say about that?”

She clicked her tongue disapprovingly and Malfoy lost his smirk.

“This is all your bloody fault!” he accused, “If you’d been paying attention we wouldn’t have crashed into one another and this stupid plant wouldn’t have done this!”

“As if you’re not able to pay attention to your surroundings to avoid walking into a distracted person on the way into a store?” Hermione retorted, rolling her eyes at his rudeness.

“Leave off, Granger,” he told her, turning around in the hopes of spotting someone he could flag down to get them both out of this. Hermione suspected he was wasting his time. No one ever came to Scrivenshaft’s unless they needed a new quill and the shop was on one of the streets off High Street. Given how much freedom they’d all been given to come to Hogsmeade this year, Hermione doubted very strongly that anyone else would be in need of new quills this close to Christmas.

“Well, this is going to be a long wait,” Hermione sighed, an idea prickling her psyche,

“Might as well do something with the time…. So, what brings you here Malfoy?”

“I need a new quill, what do you think?” Malfoy retorted aggressively, spinning back to her face her and looking annoyed with her for asking.

“Well obviously. What happened to yours?” Hermione asked him curiously, wondering what he’d done to his.

“You first,” he told her, “Since you clearly needed some new ones too.”

“I chew mine,” Hermione shrugged, “Chewed clean through the last one when I ran out of Sugar Quills and it was making an awful mess.”

“Goyle sat on mine,” Malfoy told her, looking kind of grossed out by the notion of quill-chewing.

“That poor quill,” Hermione sighed before she could think of it, the horror of imagining anything being sat on by Goyle making her blurt it out before she could consider that she was being rude. Malfoy snorted at her comment when her cheeks turned pink.

They eyed each other in silence for a few minutes after that.

“So…” Hermione said, “Who’d you get for Secret Santa?”

“You know I can’t tell you,” Malfoy replied, looking amused and quizzical simultaneously. He was eyeing her as though he was simply waiting for her to crack and take pity on them both enough to snog him so they could get out of this mess.

“Bu you can divulge some things, I’ve found. For example, Ginny and I discovered you can share the gender of the recipient and say whatever you like about them as long as it doesn’t give anything about their identity away,” Hermione pointed out, grinning, “My recipient is positively awful.”

“That seems to have been the general consensus with this ridiculous idea,” Malfoy nodded, “Everyone I know was grumbling about having to find something for who they were given. I reckon Dumbledore put some charm on that stocking to pair people who don’t get on so that they have to cooperate and look at each other differently to buy the ruddy gift.”

“I wouldn’t be a bit surprised,” Hermione sighed, realising that was probably in fact that case. She wouldn’t put it past Dumbledore to do just that, “I take it you got someone awful too then?”

“You have no idea,” he answered darkly, looking away again to see if there was anyone on the street he could lure into setting him free.

“Are you going home for Christmas?” Hermione asked nonchalantly, returning to browsing the shelves. The mistletoe was growing even shriller, now singing Jingle Bell Rock in a terrible high-pitched squeak. It was setting her teeth on edge and she could feel the tension in the room spike the longer she refused to let Malfoy loose.

“Not this year,” Malfoy answered and Hermione pretended she couldn’t feel the weight of his heavy gaze on her as she browsed the many fancy quills, “What about you?”

“I usually always go home for Christmas,” Hermione told him, looking up from the eagle feather quill she was admiring and meeting his gaze, “My parents like to spend the holidays with me after not seeing me for the rest of the year. I usually spend Christmas morning with them before joining Harry and Ron wherever they are…. But this year they’re away on business. I expect I’ll stay if Harry and Ron do.”

“You spend all your time with those two,” Malfoy nodded, “Don’t you ever get tired of them?”

“Not really,” Hermione admitted, unsure why she was sharing anything with him other than that she was already getting bored standing around in the store and in a rare fit of enthusiasm for the trip, had neglected to pack a book.

“You fight with them,” he pointed out.

“Of course I fight with them. They’re a pair of teenage boys who sometimes forget their manners and their sense. But that doesn’t mean I’d ever walk away from my friendship with either of them. It just means we’re close enough friends that I can forgive them when they upset me and vice versa.”

“Are you going to hold out long?” he asked as the mistletoe above his head switched to singing Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer at such a pitch that it made a headache prickle behind Hermione’s eyes.

“Is that you’re way of asking me to snog you, Malfoy?” Hermione asked him, shooting him a sly glance.

“Would you just get it over with? We’re never going to get out of here if you don’t,” he complained, before making the mistake of trying to silence the singing plant.

“No, don’t!” Hermione said, taking a step towards him but it was too late. The mistletoe hurled more snowy berries down on Malfoy’s head before it sang even louder, switching to a deep baritone that resonated so loud the windows rattled.

“Oh bloody hell!” Malfoy groaned, putting his hands over his ears and staring at Hermione in horror. Hermione aimed her wand at the sprig and tried Vanishing it again, causing it to switch back to the high pitch singing.

“Don’t do that again,” Hermione scolded the boy under the mistletoe.

“How the bloody hell was I supposed to know it would do that?” he asked, scowling at her.

“Don’t you know anything about mistletoe in the magical world?” Hermione asked him.

“Since I’ve never been unfortunate enough to get stuck under it for more than a few minutes before, no. Not really.”

Hermione rolled her eyes and went back to browsing the quills.

“If you’re going to be difficult about this, could you at least get my quills for me?” he asked a little while and a lot of unkind muttering later. Hermione glanced over at him to see he was holding a small bag of coins out towards her hopefully.

“You want me to buy things for you?”

“Well I can’t buy them myself since you’re being bloody difficult,” he protested, “So take the coins and do it, would you?”

“Do you know which quill you want?” Hermione asked him curiously.

“That blue one over there,” he pointed, “And a black one of the same.”

Hermione walked over and picked them up.

“I take it you like blue then?” she asked curiously.

“What’s it to you?” he asked suspiciously.

“Nothing to me, but I’m sure whichever unfortunate soul got you for Secret Santa will be interested to know and I’m not above sharing.”

“I thought I caught you distributing personal information about everyone the other day,” he nodded, narrowing his gaze a little.

“Well it’s not like it’s easy to pull this Secret Santa business off,” Hermione shrugged, “And I know that I’d like to be given something I actually like, rather than something generic and silly. Anything you’d like me to pass along to whoever got stuck with you?”

“How do I know you’re not just asking because you’re my Secret Santa?” Malfoy asked.

Hermione smiled slyly.

“How do you know I’m not?” she challenged, “Though I’m sure that if I were I wouldn’t be so direct as to actually walk up and ask you what you like.”

“No, I imagine you’d skulk around and spy, badly,” Malfoy replied, smirking too, “But fine, go ahead and share with whoever you like that for my gift I’d prefer something of a surprise. Something useful that hints to who my Secret Santa is.”

“We all want that,” Hermione rolled her eyes at him, “You’ll have to be more specific. Like about who your favourite author is or your favourite Quidditch team or food or something.”

“But if I do that I’ll just be given something random that I’ve most likely already been given in the past or bought for myself,” Malfoy pointed out sounding entirely too pompous for his own good.

“So suggest something you don’t have, something you actually want,” Hermione told him, “And throw me that so I can pay for these. I’m not fool enough to come close enough to touch you. If I do I’ll be trapped too.”

“You’re too smart for your own good, Witch,” he accused her and Hermione realised he’d asked her to pick the quills he wanted to try and trap her under the mistletoe right along with him.

“Did you doubt that prior to now?” Hermione rolled her eyes again, catching the coin-purse when he tossed it to her.

“Smugness doesn’t suit you Granger,” Malfoy informed her, leaning in the doorway while Hermione moved over to pay for the quills he wanted with his money. The old man running the store looked entirely amused by the proceedings and Hermione was practically choking on the tension in the room. It was thick and stifling, pressing in on her as she came to the realisation that she really wasn’t going to be able to avoid kissing him unless she stayed in the shop for hours on end. Already an hour had passed. Her friends would be looking for her soon.

“I’ll leave it to you then,” Hermione told him without looking at him.

“A wise choice. What about you then?” Malfoy asked, “What are you hoping to be given?”

“I hadn’t really thought about it, to be honest,” Hermione said, startled by the question,

“I suppose something personalised would be nice. Something that would show that my Secret Santa had actually participated and tried to find out what I wanted.”

“That doesn’t narrow it down,” he answered.

“Hence why your answer was so unhelpful.”

“Well what do you like? I mean, you don’t wear jewellery as far as I can see, and you aren’t interested in Quidditch or other wizarding games like chess. So beyond books, what makes Hermione Granger tick?” he asked nosily and Hermione smiled. Thus far no one had asked her what she wanted. At least, no one other than her friends who would be buying for her anyway.

“Just because I don’t often wear jewellery doesn’t mean I don’t like it. But other than books I like what you would probably call old crone interests. I like to knit things. And I like trying exotic flavours of tea. When I’m at home, I bake…. But beyond that I just really do love books,” Hermione told him, not caring that he would most likely laugh at her.

“You’re boring, in other words,” he needled though he grinned a little and Hermione suspected he was trying to soften the blow rather than simply trying to hurt her.

“By some people’s standards,” Hermione answered, “So go on, tell me what you’re interested in then, if you think I’m boring.”

“Quidditch,” he shrugged, “But fan memorabilia is dull. I have too much of the Wasps stuff anyway. Potion making. Wand making. I actually don’t mind books either. I like knowing how things tick. I pull them apart and put them back to find out how they work.”

Hermione realised then that if he’d been born a muggle, Malfoy would most likely have been a mechanic, or maybe an engineer

“How fascinating,” Hermione murmured and she felt a prickle of unease to know that despite her utter distaste for him and all he represented within the wizarding world, some of her dislike faded to learn that about him.

“Isn’t it?” he asked dryly and Hermione could tell from the evil glare he shot the mistletoe above his head that he was getting a headache. Hermione knew she was, anyway.

She was going to have to bite the bullet and get this over with, Hermione realised. She was sick of standing around in the store and the afternoon was beginning to wane. She had things she needed to do, confound it all and that infernal singing coming from the wretched plant was not at all making it any easier to just wait around for someone else who’d be willing to kiss Malfoy.

Before she could think better of it or give him any warning, Hermione squared her shoulders and marched forwards until she was well inside Draco Malfoy’s personal space. She went up on her toes, the hand holding his coin-purse and items pressing them into his hold even as she brushed her lips against his surprised pair. It was brief, barely a touch of flesh upon flesh, and yet Hermione felt a strange tingle run all the way through her down to her toes and back up again.

She meant to pull away after that. To brush his lips with hers, pull away and be off about the rest of her day as though none of this had happened, but it seemed both the mistletoe and Malfoy weren’t having any of that. Before she could take a step back, she felt his free hand curl up to cup her cheek and Malfoy pushed away from the wall where he’d been leaning. Hermione made a surprised squeak of protest when he nipped her lower lip gently before taking advantage of her shock to sweep his tongue into her mouth. He tangled it with her own tongue skilfully, the hand clutching his belongings curling around her waist and pulling her closer.

Standing there with her eyes closed and his lips pressed so intimately to hers, Hermione forgot for just a moment that he was a pureblood and she a muggle-born. She forgot that he was probably a Death Eater and she an Order member. She forgot he was a Slytherin and she a Gryffindor. He snogged her soundly, well exceeding the requirement for the mistletoe overhead to desist its Merlin-cursed singing.

Vaguely she was aware of the wretched plant spitting more berries, flowers and leaves all over the pair of them as it fell apart now that its magic had been spent. Dimly she was aware of the way Malfoy’s arm on her waist tightened until she was pressed intimately against the full length of his body. On a subconscious level she was aware they were in the doorway to a Hogsmeade store where anyone might happen across them.

But with his tongue tangled around hers so sinfully, Hermione forgot that those things mattered.

When they finally broke apart Hermione wasn’t the only one breathless and wide-eyed. She blinked at Malfoy in bewilderment, trying to regain her wits. As she stumbled backwards he released his hold on her and Hermione almost fell on the stairs of the shop before catching herself.

“Thanks,” Malfoy said in a husky voice, looking as dazed as Hermione felt.

“Yeah,” Hermione uttered before her cheeks darkened as she realised she’d just thanked Draco Malfoy for snogging her. Before he could recover enough to tease her for it, Hermione hurried down the steps and away down the street.

She didn’t look back.

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