which it is a very Slytherin Christmas indeed ~
“So, are you going to tell me what happened?”
Severus merely smirked at Draco before staring back up at the early morning sky. Draco nudged at him with his foot, feeling strangely restless for some reason. Severus batted him lazily away, stretching once more upon the trimmed grass of the hidden garden.
“Well?” said Draco impatiently, getting up from the stone bench and looking for something to throw at the other boy. “C’mon, you owe me.”
Severus’s smirk faded and he gave an angry exclamation. “I nearly forgot!” he growled. “You and that stupid puddle….”
“What?” said Draco innocently. “Don’t tell me you didn’t enjoy it?”
A small dark kitten leapt onto Snape’s chest, making his scowl fade somewhat. He automatically brushed it off but started to aim half-hearted bits of grass at the playful claws. “Forget it, I’ll get you back sometime anyway,” he said shortly, then after a thoughtful pause, “Where were you last night? How come you didn’t end up sitting with us after you ran ahead?”
Draco shrugged and kicked a pile of dead leaves. “Didn’t feel thirsty anymore,” he said in a bored tone. “And besides, I couldn’t stand that horrible music.”
“Ah, yes, the bagpipes,” remembered Severus. “Did you see Ginny?”
“I didn’t stay for very long,” said Draco. “Went back to the castle.”
“Well, she asked where you were,” Severus continued. “I think she wanted to talk to you.”
Draco grunted and started to walk away. “Is it breakfast time yet?” he asked over his shoulder. “I’m starving.”
Snape sighed at his retreating back. “What did you say to her?” he called after him. “She seemed kind of upset when I spoke to her.”
Draco made a face. “What, sore feet from dancing with Potter?” He rolled his eyes. “She’s always whinging about something—”
“You shouldn’t keep upsetting her,” said Severus, reluctantly getting to his feet to follow the other boy.
Draco scowled. “What’s with all the preachiness this morning?”
Severus scowled back at him. “Oh, shut up, will you,” he muttered after a long pause.
“Right,” muttered Draco under his breath, then louder. “See you, I’m going back to the castle.”
And with that, Draco left the other boy and pushed his way through the hole in the hedge. Severus stood still for a while, and looked out across the shimmering lake.
He wondered what was wrong with Ginny. She had been with Potter for God’s sake, so why was she all bothered when she had come up to him? And after all that, Draco had forgotten to find out what had happened between him and Professor Garwood.
OK, so nothing had happened.
Well…he was progressing…OK, so he wasn’t. But hell, if a student had started hitting on him when he was a Professor, they would probably be on their way to St Mungo’s at the moment.
Severus frowned. Now that he thought of it, if she did respond to his…’charm’…how would he be able to live with it after he changed back? It was all getting much too strange for his liking and the sooner he was back to normal, the better.
Catching up Oreo in his arms, he made his way to the hedge.
He really shouldn’t be putting it off for much longer, he had to change back soon… Even if he was still worried about Draco.
The days passed by and Snape was still no closer to finding a reverse effect for his predicament. Magical fireworks whizzed sporadically around the Great Hall, but then Guy Fawkes Night had come and gone, and now bits of holly and mistletoe were starting to take over the hallways and common rooms.
Draco been acting distant lately, and Severus soon guessed why.
Draco had received an owl from home. It was his only owl from Malfoy Manor since the start of term.
With narrowed eyes, Draco had opened the letter, aware that the whole Slytherin table was watching him out of the corner of their eyes. Severus had watched from the Gryffindor table, and although he didn’t know exactly what it had said, he was given the main idea when Draco left his place silently and walked out to the main notice board. Severus had also left his place and followed, but when he’d arrived, no one was to be seen. He had then examined the board and found that his guess was correct. Underneath the list of people who were staying for Christmas was Draco’s name, written jaggedly in black ink. Severus had immediately taken up the quill and written his name straight underneath it, irritably noticing that the name ‘Harry Potter’ was near the top.
Well, at least he wouldn’t have to go through that embarrassing ordeal of pulling a cracker with the Headmaster this year, he thought.
Ginny had also noticed the change in Draco. For although he wasn’t snapping back as much as usual, it seemed to her even more depressing that he would rather walk away or simply ignore her than continue an argument.
“G’night, Ginny,” said a blonde messy-haired boy. “You goin’ to bed too?”
Ginny was about to answer Woodley when a pair of dark eyes darted at her from a corner of the Gryffindor common room.
“Er…no,” she said regretfully. “But good night anyway.”
“‘Night,” said Philip Woodley and swept up the stairs.
Ginny turned a questioning glance towards Severus Snape, who was occupying an armchair in the corner. “What is it?” she asked.
Severus glanced at her and started to stroke a purring kitten on his lap. “It’s Draco,” he said quietly.
Ginny looked at him uncertainly. “What about him?”
“Are you staying back tomorrow? Over the Christmas break?”
Ginny hesitated, wondering what was coming next.
“Draco is,” continued Severus, slowly, “–and I think we should do something for him.”
“Why?” she blurted out. “I mean, why is he staying?”
Severus gave her a significant look. “Don’t you remember in the forest?” he said quietly. “Lu—his father…remember what he said?”
“He is yours… yours to do what you will….”
Ginny shivered at that cold voice echoing in her thoughts. “I guess… I guess I hadn’t really thought about it,” she said in a small voice.
Severus scowled at the crackling fire. He’d been to see Dumbledore about Draco, only to find out that Lucius was still missing, and had been so since the forest incident. When Severus had asked where Dumbledore thought he was, the Headmaster had just given him a strange look and told him that he was sure Draco would be fine.
“I just don’t understand how someone could do that,” continued Ginny, interrupting his thoughts. “I mean, I always thought Lucius Malfoy was a horrible person…but his own son…”
Severus surveyed her darkly. “I’m not surprised,” he said quietly. “I thought you knew? He’s done this sort of thing before.”
Ginny glanced at him sharply. “What do you mean?”
“Lucius was never the Malfoy heir,” muttered Snape. “He had two elder brothers, twins. You come from an old family, you know how it works.”
“What, the eldest inherits everything?” replied Ginny doubtfully. “But hardly anybody does that anymore. It’s rather nasty and very old-fashioned.”
“Well, the Malfoys are rather nasty and very old-fashioned,” said Severus. “And Lucius was horribly jealous of his two brothers, and decided he’d do anything to be the rightful heir.”
Ginny frowned in disbelief. “He can’t have killed them,” she replied. “And how could you possibly know all this?”
Severus stared into the fire. “My uncle overheard him telling his story to the Dark Lord. He made quite an impression.” His eyes returned to Ginny’s shocked face. “And you’re right,” he continued. “He couldn’t kill them, not without being expelled from the bloodline and losing everything.”
“So…” murmured Ginny hesitantly. “What did he do?”
“He poisoned their minds,” Severus muttered. “Flitted back and forth between them, turned them against each other. They fought over a woman, and when they finally killed each other, Lucius married her.”
Ginny joined Severus’s gaze into the fire, horror rising in her throat as she tried to banish the conversation from her mind.
“Sorry,” said Severus shortly. “I probably shouldn’t have mentioned it…”
Ginny winced. “Not the best idea before bed.”
“Well anyway,” muttered Snape. “Back to Draco…”
“Right,” said Ginny numbly. “Draco…”
Severus stared at Ginny intensely. “You know he’s nothing like his father.”
Ginny blinked and snapped at him. “Of course I know that!” she said fiercely. “He’s Draco… not some horrible murderer who…who gives away Tom Riddle’s old school things for kicks…” Ginny’s voice died down to a mumble.
“So, you’re staying here for Christmas?” hesitated Severus.
Ginny’s creased brow cleared and she turned to face her fellow Gryffindor. “Of course.”
Upon the seventh stair, Philip Woodley heard the sound of scraping armchairs. His eyes didn’t twinkle in the torchlight as he resumed his ascent up to his dormitory. “Pull yourself together, man,” he said to himself. “It’s not your fault.”
Christmas Eve dawned bright and clear. The snow on the ground seemed to give off a sort of white glow, which all of the remaining students decided to celebrate with a snowball fight. Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Woodley, Fred and George, and Katie Bell, were the first out of the castle to pelt snowballs at each other. Most of the exchange students had gone back for the break, but there were a surprising number of people left at school. Draco and Severus had rolled their eyes when they saw the big group of snow-covered Gryffindors streak past them, and had promptly edged back into the castle to ungraciously help decorate. Ginny had sent them a hurt look when they’d left, but had decided to follow them after a short while anyway.
She found the two of them using their wands to decorate a small fir tree with Christmas baubles. “Having fun?” she asked laughingly, as two shiny balls started slamming each other with great force.
“Oh, great,” said Draco, annoyed as one of the balls fell to the ground. “Mine would’ve won if it wasn’t for you.”
Ginny grinned. “Yes, yes, it’s all my fault. Can I help?”
Severus smirked at Draco’s frown and slid her a box of decorations.
“Ooh! The angel! And she has red hair as well!” exclaimed Ginny. “Isn’t she beautiful?”
Draco glanced at her, his mouth twitching. “Not really,” he snickered.
“What would you know?” replied Ginny crossly. “Well, don’t you think so, Severus?”
“She’s all right,” said Severus, waving his wand a little too hard and setting a star on fire. “Oh, hell!”
Draco gave a snort of laughter, accidentally knocking a container of explosive glitter onto the floor. It was Ginny and Severus’s turn to snigger as Draco looked in horror at his green robes covered in pink glitter.
“Oh, Draco, you’re so pretty—”
“Pink is so becoming—”
“I just adore your hair—”
Ginny and Severus exploded into laughter once more before Draco scooped up some of the glitter into his hands and rubbed it violently into their hair. In an instant, they were pushing and shoving each other, scuffling to be the least glittery.
The scuffling stopped and three heads were raised distractedly at the speaker.
“Oh, hello, Hermione,” murmured Ginny, hastily pushing off Draco and getting off Severus. “We were just…er…decorating.”
“Ah, yes,” Hermione said, poker-faced. “Just wanted to let you know we’re having lunch in the common room. See you later.”
“Bye!” called out Ginny lamely, as Hermione left.
“Damned thing, get off!” cried Draco irritably.
Ginny stepped off the hem of his robe haughtily. “Get off yourself!”
“I was talking,” said Draco scathingly, “–to the glitter.”
“Well, I’m sorry for interrupting your intellectual conversation with the glitter,” exclaimed Ginny. “But you’re on my robes also.”
Even though he was covered with pink glitter, Draco managed to get up with great dignity. “You’re lucky it’s Christmas Eve, Ginny,” he replied, just as haughtily. “Or I would’ve been forced to take proper revenge.”
“Oh, you don’t have it in you!” Ginny laughed. “You’re too…sparkly.”
Draco rubbed at his face irritably and only succeeded in putting more on.
“Damn it, Severus! This is—”
“ALL YOUR FAULT!” snorted Ginny and Severus, laughing as they all headed off to the Prefect bathroom.
“A toast to our wonderful guests.” Albus Dumbledore smiled, raising his goblet. “A Merry Christmas Eve to each and every one of you.”
The few exchange students looked at each other pleased, and the whole hall started enthusiastically on the enormous banquet. Both students and staff were using only the two centre house tables, but both were quite filled up.
Draco and Severus were sitting quite away from the rest of the party. Ginny was sitting next to Philip Woodley and William Boot, pulling crackers with them and constantly giggling. Harry, Ron and Hermione were sitting opposite them, trying out suspicious-looking sweets from Fred and George. Ron gave a yell as his two front teeth started to grow larger and larger until they pierced his slice of plum pudding. Hermione looked at them in dislike, tapping them with her wand and reverting them back to normal. Severus gave a snort of laughter at the sight, but hastily stopped when Hermione spun around and gave him a sharp look.
Severus looked instead at a surly-looking Draco, who seemed to be picking at his food. “Not hungry?”
Draco grunted in reply.
“Try the pudding, it’s my favourite,” Severus continued, unconvincingly taking a bite and choking at the sweetness.
Draco looked at the plate in disinterest and shoved an enormous piece into his mouth. “Urgh,” he muttered with his mouth full. “Wot-the-’ell?”
Draco grabbed the nearest napkin and removed a shiny silver Sickle from his mouth.
“Guess it’s your lucky day,” said Philip Woodley, who had come over to retrieve a rocket-like hat that had landed nearby.
Draco scowled at him and flicked the silver Sickle across the table in annoyance. “We had Galleons at home,” he muttered, rising to leave.
“Draco…” began Snape.
Draco scowled. “What?”
Severus sighed. “See you tomorrow,” he said. “Good night.”
If Draco was surprised at these final words, he didn’t show it. “‘Night,” he said finally, and left the hall.
Severus turned his head to glance at Ginny and saw that she was already looking over at him, an expression of slight pity written on her face.
Tomorrow, he told her with his eyes, was going to be the best damned Christmas Draco Malfoy had ever had.
“What’s wrong, Harry?”
Hermione detached herself from the singing Gryffindors and sat next to the silent boy-wizard.
“Ah, nothing,” replied Harry with a smile. “I’m just feeling kind of tired.”
“You are not!” exclaimed Ron, who had noticed them not joining in the singing. “C’mon! It’s Christmas Eve! Be merry!”
Harry laughed as Ron took up Hermione’s hands and started to jig.
“How many Butterbeers did you drink this time, Ron?”
“Oh, c’mon! Have some fun before someone remembers you’re a Prefect!” cried Ron, grinning and avoiding the question. “Don’t be like Ginny! You’re not going to bed early too, are you?”
Harry’s grin faded somewhat and Hermione sent him a strange look before turning to Ron. “It isn’t early,” she said. “It’s ten o’clock, and I’m sure Harry is going to be the only one conscious enough to open his presents tomorrow morning.”
Ron frowned at her. “Well, if Harry’s going to sit here, then so am I,” he announced taking up the armchair next to Harry’s and looking stubbornly into the common room fire.
Hermione rolled her eyes. “Fine. I’m going to go dance, see you later.”
Ron threw a sideways glance at his best friend and Harry laughed. “Go on, there’s always tomorrow night. I promise I’ll be stupid alongside you then, OK?”
Ron grinned at him affectionately and moved off, narrowly avoiding one of the twins’ noise-free fireworks.
Harry resumed his gaze once more into the diminishing fire.
“Yeah,” he said quietly. “Tomorrow I’ll have fun…when everyone’s here…”
Ginny opened her eyes and sat up in bed. Her head spun from the sudden movement, but she quickly tuned in to her surroundings as she’d been trained to in that eventful week at the start of term. Glancing at the clock on her bedside table, she cursed softly to herself. She got quietly out of bed and headed for the adjoining bathroom, careful not to wake the other girls. “Oh, great, no time to get changed,” she muttered to her reflection, as she quickly splashed cold water on her face.
She wondered how she could have overslept like this, she was certain that she had taught herself to get up whenever she’d planned to and had even gone to bed early. Ginny sighed and finished brushing her teeth. She caught up her hair in a messy ponytail and padded silently down the stairs.
“I thought you weren’t coming,” said a deep voice, making her jump.
Ginny frowned at the speaker and brushed an insistent lock of hair from her face. “Of course I’m coming,” she said annoyed. “I just…slept in…that’s all…”
Severus Snape looked from her deep blue pyjamas to her tousled red hair. “Really?” he said rather dryly, smoothing back his perfect short hair. “I couldn’t tell.”
“Oh, it’s three a.m., Severus,” Ginny shot back. She looked him up and down. “And it’s Christmas! Why d’you always insist on wearing black robes?”
Severus gave her a withering look. “Because it matches my soul.” He started for the door. “We have to hurry; I locked Oreo in the dormitory and she’ll be scratching everyone’s eyes out any minute now.”
Ginny nodded and moved quickly towards the portrait hole. “Well?” she asked a suddenly stock-still Severus. “You’re the one who said to hurry up!”
“Maybe we could wait a while…” muttered Severus slowly, glancing up the stairs with a nasty smile.
Ginny rolled her eyes. “Come on!”
Severus sighed and followed.
“Give me your sword, son.”
Draco’s face twisted into an expression of pure hatred.
“I am not your son,” he spat. “And I never will be.”
“We are of the same blood…you know that, my son.”
The man’s voice was low and menacing now, as he pulled back his hood.
“You…” breathed the boy. “You will pay for this…”
“Oh, I do not think so, Draco,” sneered the voice. “Poor, poor, Draco…Draco…Draco…”
Ginny Weasley gave a cry and was just about to hit the floor when a pair of muscular arms caught her.
“WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” shouted Severus, laying Ginny on the floor of the dormitory and bringing his wand to her temple. “Enervate.”
Draco stared at them in horror, looking from his wand to the slowly awakening Ginny. “Severus?” he breathed. “Ginny?”
Ginny opened her eyes slowly and blinked at a confused Draco still sitting up in bed. “Happy Christmas to you too,” she said weakly, getting up and stretching. “Thought we’d surprise you… Never do that again…”
Draco stared at them both, slightly stunned. Severus cleared his throat. “Er…yes…Merry Christmas, Draco,” he said sunnily, as if they had planned the whole thing as a pantomime. “Er…did we surprise you?”
Severus gave Ginny a ‘well-that-didn’t-go-too-well-did-it?’ look, which Ginny returned whole-heartedly.
Draco rubbed his eyes. “What…are you two…doing…here?”
“Well…” began Ginny.
“You could do with some—”
“Christmas cheer,” finished off Ginny firmly, waving a hand at Severus’s frown.
“You got up at—” Draco squinted at his grand bedside clock. “—five a.m. to come down here and—”
“What are friends for?” said Severus.
“It was actually three a.m.,” Ginny added.
“—scare the living hell out of me?” Draco finished off disbelievingly.
Snape rubbed the back of his neck and Ginny shuffled awkwardly.
Draco sat still for a while, trying to collect his thoughts. He looked around his empty Slytherin dorm and fully took in the situation. He was sitting in bed, his wand still tightly clenched in his fist, Severus giving him an almost anxious look as he was absent-mindedly poking his mirror, and Ginny, of all people not-properly-dressed, had now taken to bouncing up and down upon Blaise Zabini’s bed.
“How did you get in here?” Draco asked suspiciously. “And how did you get our password?”
Ginny gave Severus a disapproving look. “Severus bullied a Slytherin first year into giving it to him.”
“I did not,” he defended. “I asked him nicely and he said something rude, so I asked him more forcefully and he graciously replied.”
“Severus punched his head,” Ginny explained.
But Draco was still too stunned to snigger, and shook his head once more. “I still can’t believe you two are here,” he said slowly. “I mean, hell, I think this is the first time a pair of Gryffindors have actually made it in here without getting stun—er—hexed…” he finished hastily, avoiding Ginny’s gaze.
To his surprise, Ginny grinned back. “Actually,” she said slyly, “–the real reason we came were to see those pyjamas… Erotic mauve…”
Draco fought back the urge to pull the covers back over himself. “Looking pretty flashy yourself, Weasley,” he shot back, “–in those electric blue ones.”
“You know Severus is the only one not wearing a pair…” said Ginny, shaking her head in mock shame. “I know he feels like the odd one out…”
“No, I don’t!” said Snape quickly, glaring at Ginny and not liking the sudden gleam in Draco’s grey eyes.
“Well, if you really want to spread the Christmas Cheer, Severus.” Draco smirked as he got out of bed and rifled through his enormous wardrobe, “–you would wear…these.”
Severus looked in slight horror at the lime-green, silky trousers and shirt that Draco was waving in front of his face.
“I am not wearing your pyjamas!” said Severus scathingly, jumping back as Ginny came swiftly over and started to jeer and wave the pyjamas at him. It was as if they had both suddenly gone mad.
“Come on, be a sport.” Draco sniggered, yanking the shirt from Ginny and flinging it at Severus. “Here, we’ll turn around while you put them on.”
And with that, Draco promptly grabbed Ginny’s shoulders and spun her around forcefully, so she was facing the same way he was with her back to Severus. With a sour expression and not feeling the Christmas Cheer at all, Severus started to tug irritably at his collar while inspecting the lime-green pyjamas gingerly.
Ginny had stopped giggling when she realised that a pair of surprisingly strong hands were gripping her shoulders. From the corner of her eye she followed the lightly tanned hands up to a silky maroon sleeve, and was suddenly conscious of a faint breath of air blowing onto the back of her neck. She levelled her gaze ahead once more, feeling vaguely annoyed and wanting to shake off the grip, but her muscles not responding.
“Ugh, I feel like a leprechaun,” said Severus suddenly, making her jump.
She felt the hands instantly let go and Draco’s voice laughing and replying, “Well, you look like one too.”
Ginny slowly turned around, feeling a slight queasiness in her stomach that instantly evaporated when she heard Draco’s next words. “What’s with you?” he said. “You look like you’re going to be sick.”
“Don’t be stupid,” she said shortly, but forgetting everything else when she glanced at Severus and burst into laughter. “Oh, dear, where’s Colin when you need him? This is too priceless to waste!”
Severus scowled at her half-heartedly and threw his own robes onto Draco’s bed. “Never again,” he replied, but then poking his robes. “I’ll collect these later.”
Draco looked at him, surprised. “Why? Where are you going?”
Severus shrugged offhandedly. “To the common room.”
Draco’s expression darkened. “See you at dinner then,” he grunted.
Ginny laughed at him, earning an annoyed look. “Are you going to stay in here all day?” she asked innocently.
Draco glanced at their slightly twitching faces and raised his eyebrows in suspicion. “Why?” he asked. “What did you do?”
“Come with us to the common room,” suggested Severus. “And we’ll show you.”
And with that, the two Gryffindors started to march an alarmed Draco up the stairs away from the dormitory. “Stop it!” he cried, trying to shake them off. “I don’t want to go to your stupid common room!”
Severus smirked at him. “Neither do I,” he admitted, “–so that’s why we’re going to yours.”
Ginny giggled at the expression of disbelief on Draco’s face. “But you can’t…” he said feebly, trying to shake off their grip once more as they marched him up the stairs. “I mean, you’re not allowed in—”
But Draco’s voice was cut short as he reached the top of the stairs and stared with incredulity at the transformed Slytherin common room reaching out before him.
The usual rich but gloomy tapestries hanging on the dungeon walls were covered with a sort of silvery material, which added to the effect of the enchanted snowflakes falling softly on the far side of the room. Where the floor was sunken next to the fireplace was a glittery pool of ice, which didn’t seem to be melting at all even though an enormous fire was roaring in front of it. But the thing that struck Draco the most was the remarkably life-like quality of the trees, which towered over everything and seemed to cover the ceiling with their ancient boughs and deep green leaves. It was like stepping into another world, from the tiny bunches of holly and mistletoe scattered around, to the soft silver snowflakes all over the thick green carpet, everything held a slight element of fantasy.
“You did it up to look like the
Severus and Ginny looked at each other, slightly disconcerted with his reaction.
“It was Severus’s idea,” Ginny blurted out. “It was supposed to symbolise… I mean, it was where we all became… Er…you know…”
Draco stared at the silent boy in front of him with an inscrutable expression on his face.
Severus ran his fingers through his hair uncomfortably. “It was Ginny’s idea too,” he muttered. “She helped a lot.”
Draco’s gaze flickered to Ginny and he sent her a gradual lop-sided smile. Ginny blinked at him and suddenly looked away, but Draco didn’t seem to notice as he addressed Severus.
“You’re lucky most of the Slytherins are away,” he said in a strange voice. “You would’ve been dead.”
Severus snorted. “D’you really think they would have succeeded in kicking us out?”
“No,” said Draco simply. “But the force of their heads exploding would have killed you both.”
Severus snickered and Draco started to laugh, a different laugh from his usual jeer and snigger, not high but not very deep either, an infectious, almost comical laugh that made Ginny and Severus join in with him.
“You know…” said Ginny, catching her breath after a long pause. “Despite everything, I’m really glad that we were all stuck together. This year’s been the most fun I’ve had since I came to Hogwarts.”
Draco raised his eyebrows. “I hope you’re not getting all sentimental on me, Weasley.”
Ginny found herself smiling in return. “Wouldn’t dream of it, Malfoy.”
Severus stared at a gigantic oak tree. Just for today, he vowed to himself, he wouldn’t think at all about changing back.
Glancing over to where Draco was staring, Ginny grinned at Severus. Sitting neatly in the corner, snowflakes landing lightly on its smaller branches, was a familiar-looking fir tree.
“That’s the same tree we decorated,” exclaimed Draco. “How’d you get that down here?”
Ginny coughed loudly and Severus sent her an amused glance. “Ginny persuaded the house-elves to do it. They’ll also be bringing food down later on.” He gave Ginny a sideways look. “Though I could’ve talked them into it…”
“Punching heads is not persuading,” Ginny replied smugly. “And you forgot to mention that they also brought down the presents.”
Draco looked at them startled, suddenly remembering that there had been no usual cartload of presents at the foot of his bed, and that he hadn’t even thought of it until now. A sudden coldness seemed to hit Draco, which Severus and Ginny didn’t seem to notice as they started for the tree.
“What’s wrong?” asked Severus, looking back at him.
Draco took a while to reply. “D’you really think I’d get presents from home after…” The Slytherin left his sentence harshly unfinished, his expression changing to a deep scowl almost simultaneously.
Ginny grabbed his sleeve and pointed towards the small Christmas tree. “Draco,” she said softly. “Look.”
But as Draco stared at the multitudes of different coloured parcels of all shapes and sizes lying beneath the thick boughs, his grey eyes caught the names inscribed on the small tags attached, and the sudden coldness seemed to clutch him even tighter than before.
Draco turned to his companions, his face slightly flushed. “You got me presents?” he stammered. “I…I thought I wasn’t going to be here…so I…I was going to get yours back at the Manor…but I just forgot…I’m …”
“Don’t be stupid!”
The two boys jumped at the sound of Ginny’s harsh voice.
“Don’t be stupid!” she repeated fiercely. “I never expected you to think about such a trivial thing as presents, especially with all that stuff on your plate with your father! I’m just glad that you’re here with us, and not with him!”
Ginny glared at Draco, as if daring him to disagree with her. Draco stared back, feeling slightly stunned. A strong hand gripped his shoulder.
“She’s right,” said Severus, quietly. “And I don’t expect any presents from home either. It just takes some getting used to, that’s all.”
Draco looked at the other boy suddenly, as if seeing him properly for the first time. He inwardly kicked himself for not realising sooner. Severus’s parents were dead—killed recently in fact… And here he was, stupidly carrying on about his father, when Severus hadn’t even his uncle here for Christmas.
Draco opened his mouth to say something when Severus frowned sharply.
“I…I’ll see if I can dig up something to give you both,” Draco muttered, glad that he hadn’t ended up awkwardly apologising.
“All right,” said Ginny impatiently, but giving them both a quick grin. “But let’s have a look at these ones first, OK?” She pulled the two boys to the floor. “Ooh!” she exclaimed. “Here’s one for you, Severus…and you, Draco! Ooh, is this one for me? Oh, look!”
“That had to be a record for getting the wrapping off,” commented Severus, as Ginny waved an extravagant feather quill in his face, tickling his nose.
“Thanks, Severus!” Ginny sang, launching herself at him and enveloping him in an enormous hug.
“Get off,” demanded Severus with dignity, though it didn’t seem to have the same effect as Ginny had inconspicuously slipped the rest of her fancy quills into his hair.
Draco gave a snort of laughter and picked up the parcel that Ginny had shoved into his hands. His eyes flicked idly over the nametag, and his heart seemed to stop when he noticed the small ‘Malfoy Manor’ coat of arms stamped onto the surface.
“Look, I do have one from home,” he said to the other two, forcing his voice to sound casual.
Severus and Ginny looked uneasily at each other and stopped what they were doing as Draco unwrapped it. Ginny gasped as Draco pulled a magnificent fur coat from the packaging and read silently the note that was attached.
“It’s from my mother,” he said briefly, scrunching up the note and tossing down the coat. “She doesn’t mention my father or anything, just says ‘Seasons Greetings.’”
“Oh, well,” said Severus awkwardly, but then picking up another package. “Here, this is yours too.”
Draco seemed to forget the coat and looked curiously at this new present, wondering who it was from.
“Er…you don’t need to open that one…” said a small voice.
The two boys looked in surprise at Ginny, who was looking distinctly green.
“Why ever not?” asked Draco, ripping off the string and starting to unravel the brown paper.
Ginny’s voice trailed away as Draco withdrew from the paper a deep green cloak. It wasn’t fancy or expensive like the fur one, and had silver flashing letters on the back. Draco shot Ginny a strange look and stood up silently.
“How do I look?” he asked grandly, throwing the cloak over his shoulders and doing up the silver clasp.
“Like an idiot with a note in their hair,” commented Severus, snorting as Draco shook his head in annoyance.
Draco picked up the fallen note and pocketed it shamelessly. “What does the back say?” he asked Ginny.
“Praepespetis,” she said in an odd, strangled-voice. “It means rapid flying… It’s also a spell used in making broomsticks… Your Nimbus would already be under it of course – but how did you know that I gave it to you?”
Draco smirked. “Judging from how you keep looking at that fur cloak and this green one, I would almost think that you were embarrassed, Ginny.”
“Don’t be,” cut in Draco suddenly. “I would rather have this one than some rubbish fur one any day.”
Ginny went slightly pink and shot him a suspicious look. “Oh, don’t be silly,” she said half-heartedly. “You know that fur coat is worth—”
“If you like it so much,” cut in Draco once more, “–you can have it.”
And so saying, the young Slytherin swept the expensive cloak from the floor and took out his wand, zapping it in some places and muttering strange charms.
After sneaking a glance at a silent sitting Ginny from the corner of his eye, Severus turned his attention back to a present he was unwrapping from Hagrid.
“Finished,” commented Draco, putting his wand away and holding the cloak in one hand.
Ginny slowly raised her eyes to his face as he walked over to her. Draco met her gaze and held out his left hand silently. Ginny glanced at the hand, remembering how he’d held that same hand to hers on the night of the centaur’s oath. Hesitantly she took it, and immediately felt a jolt of electricity run through her as she was pulled upwards. She looked at him startled, but if Draco had felt it he made no sign, and, as always, he met her gaze once more with unblinking grey eyes. As soon as she was steady, Draco instantly let go and Ginny felt the strange feeling of power slowly fade away. She clenched her right fist instinctively and stiffened as Draco flung the fur cloak over her shoulders and deftly did up the clasp.
“It’s…it’s too tight,” she said feebly.
“Nonsense,” said Draco. “Your hair’s just getting in the way. Here.”
Ginny shivered as she felt a cool hand brush her neck and push away a lock of hair. Her eyes started to close and a sudden impulse made her bring her hand up and press it over his.
“Draco…” she started to say.
“HOLY–WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO OUR COMMON ROOM?”
Ginny jerked and felt the hand tug away. She opened her eyes and caught a glimpse of the back of Draco Malfoy striding towards the stairway.
“Oh, hullo, Higgs,” said Draco. “A bit early for screaming at the top of your lungs, isn’t it?”
Terence Higgs looked mistrustfully at the younger boy. “You are bloody lucky Professor Snape isn’t here! Even if you do get away with murder – he would definitely hit the roof if he saw what you’ve done to our common room—”
“Good morning,” said a deep voice behind Draco. “I don’t believe we’ve been formally introduced. My name is Severus Snape.”
The dirty-blonde sixth year stared disbelievingly at the black-haired boy before him.
“I know who you are,” sneered Terence Higgs back. “And I also know that you’re a—HOLY COW—”
It was here that the sixth year’s voice drained away, as he looked past Draco and Severus and towards a red-haired figure, still standing stock-still.
“Moo,” murmured Severus.
“WHAT’S A WEASLEY DOING IN OUR COMMON ROOM?” shrieked Higgs.
“Oh, come on, Higgs,” said Draco in a bored tone. “It is Christmas after all. Good will and all that.”
“Oh, you’re for it, Malfoy,” said Higgs bitterly. “A Weasley… in the Slytherin common room.”
“Hello,” said Ginny timidly, coming closer but pointing to the sixth year’s bare heel. “Oh, there’s a hole in your stocking.”
“How embarrassing,” supplied Severus.
Higgs glared at his stocking and looked as if he was about to burst a blood vessel. “DAMN IT, MALFOY, I SWEAR I’M GOING TO…”
Ginny grinned. “You mean darn it,” she interrupted. “You really should darn the hole–”
“YOU STUPID GRYFFINDOR! GET OUT!”
“Now, see here, Higgs—”
“I said, you too, Snape!”
“Come on, Higgs—”
“Shut it, Malfoy.”
“Will you just—”
“Cram it, Snape.”
“Oh, please, won’t you—”
“Suck it, Weasley.”
Higgs’ last words were answered to with a punch in the jaw. The Slytherin sixth year staggered and was just about to fall backwards down the stairs when a pair of hands grabbed his dressing gown and pulled him forward.
“Lie down, Higgs,” said a quiet voice.
“Who hit me?” Higgs demanded groggily. “Wait ‘til I get my wand.”
“Lie down,” repeated the voice of Draco Malfoy firmly.
Terence Higgs grudgingly stayed still on the ground until the dizziness cleared away. He got up slowly and looked at the three younger students standing before him.
“It was me,” said Ginny sheepishly, giving him a small wave. “I didn’t mean to, but it was pretty awful what you said…”
Higgs looked suspiciously at her. “Feels like you hit me with a brick.”
“Oh, well, what with Draco and Severus and my six brothers always fighting each other…” Ginny stopped hastily, realising that mentioning her brothers wouldn’t help. “Er…oh, look! The house-elves are here!”
And so saying, a multitude of seasonal-tea-towel-wearing elves began streaming through the door with delicious looking platters. One of them approached Ginny shyly and gave a quick curtsey.
“We will be back at brunch to collect the dishes and provide you with more, Miss Weasley,” she said, looking nervously at Malfoy (who bared his teeth with a smirk). “Good day.”
“Draco!” said Ginny sternly, when the tiny elves had gone. “Why are you so horrible to them?”
“Who cares?” said Terence Higgs with a sudden gleam in his eye. “Bloody hell, I’m getting into this food.”
The unlikely trio eyed each other, eyebrows raised. Terence Higgs gave them an amicable nod and settled down on a stump by the roaring fire, with two jugs of Butterbeer by his side.
“Well…now that that’s over with, I think Higgs will keep the rest of the Slytherins who come down under control,” said Severus amusedly. “Let’s go look at the rest of these presents.”
Ginny started to smile as the two boys brushed past her, when she remembered Draco’s touch on her neck.
It had been so… well…it was hard to believe that so simple a gesture could make her feel as if she was floating on air…
“Draco…” she started to say.
“Just a sec,” he yelled, running past her and disappearing down the stairs to the dormitories. “Got to go fetch something!”
Ginny sighed and turned instead to Severus, who was sitting beneath the tree and examining a rectangular-looking parcel. His strong hands soon ripped apart the brown paper, revealing a large, leather-bound book. He ran his fingers over the soft, smooth cover and read the small cursive writing in the card.
‘Dear Severus, this is so you’ll never forget your time at Hogwarts (and other places) with us. Love, Ginny.’
Wondering what on earth it was, Severus opened to the first page. Stuck in the centre was a photo of three untidy and dirty but glowing-with-energy students, shoving and laughing and jumping around as if they hadn’t a care in the world.
“Ginny,” Severus murmured. “How did you get this?”
Ginny beamed at him. “Actually, it was Professor Dumbledore’s idea,” she admitted. “I used his Pensieve to take photos of my memories… This one’s when we just returned to Hogwarts, when we just realised that we made it back…”
Severus looked at himself on the page and snorted. He turned the pages and began to snort once more; only towards the end did the snorts turn into guffaws, and then real (though rather snide) laughter. When he reached the last page he looked up to find Ginny staring at him anxiously.
“It’s brilliant,” he said quietly, meeting her shining eyes with his own.
Severus blinked and looked inquiringly at a suddenly arrived Draco.
“Here,” said Draco, handing him a long, hurriedly wrapped package. “It’s kind of last minute…but I’ve been meaning to give it to you sometime anyway…”
Severus smiled cordially at him and took it, rummaging through the pile of parcels and throwing over a miniature one to Draco. “You open yours first,” he said.
Draco looked curiously at the small box and opened it cautiously. Something gold immediately whizzed past his ear, making him jump in surprise and swipe out at it.
“A Snitch!” exclaimed Draco in surprise, staring at the whirring ball in hand. “Jeez…this is brilliant, Severus! How’d you get a hold of it? You’re not supposed to be able to own your own Quidditch balls.”
“My uncle gave it to me. For my fifth birthday, I think.”
“You got a Snitch when you were five?” exclaimed Ginny. “But you told us your uncle was rubbish at Quidditch.”
“Oh…right,” Severus muttered distractedly, before turning to the long, thin package in front of him. “Draco, can I open it now?”
“Yeah,” exclaimed Draco, looking at him as though he was an idiot.
Ginny stopped unwrapping her presents from home and looked on curiously. She ran her fingers through her extravagant fur cloak. How did Draco manage to make it fit so perfectly?
Severus ripped off the paper enjoyably and smirked when he pulled out a dangerous-looking silver sword.
“D’you like it?” said Draco, almost anxiously. “I’ve got another one down in the dorm’ if you don’t.”
“It’s perfect,” announced Severus, his eyes gleaming as he leapt up and swiped at a falling snowflake.
Draco frowned as Severus stopped swiping suddenly. “What’s wrong?” he demanded.
Severus stared at the insignia beneath the blade. “This is a Malfoy heirloom,” he said eventually. “I can’t possibly take it…”
Ginny’s eyes widened as she stared at the blade, her recent conversation with Severus echoing in her mind.
“Well, I’m giving it to you,” responded Draco, scowling at no one in particular. “I’ve always had an extra, it’s my spare. I was going to teach you how to duel with it, since you’re teaching me and Ginny how to duel with a wand.”
Severus eyed the sword temptingly. “Why do you have them at school?” he asked.
“My mother sent me all my things a few days ago,” Draco muttered, looking as if he didn’t want to discuss it any further. “So anyway,” he began in a louder voice. “Are you going to keep it, or not? You know I’ve been looking forward to beating you in at least one thing and I’m a bloody excellent swordsman.”
“Such modesty,” Ginny murmured.
“Yeah, all right,” replied Severus, the shiny blade weakening his wariness. “I’ve been looking for a bit of a challenge…”
“Oh, you’ll get one.”
“How about some music?” suggested Ginny, eyeing a bunch of goggling Slytherins listening to a narrating Terence Higgs. Luckily his mouth was so full with food that they could barely understand him ‘getting smashed in the chin by a brick’.
“All right, so long as it’s not—”
A fast, sharp tune started coming from the common room fireplace.
“—Bagpipes,” finished Draco grumpily.
Ginny was relieved to notice that the Slytherins had chosen to ignore them, and seemed quite pleased with all the food, Butterbeer, and even the music. “Come on, you two!” she whooped. “Let’s dance!”
Severus raised an eyebrow at Draco who muttered something like ‘Slytherins don’t dance.’ However much to Draco’s annoyance, the group of Slytherins by the fireplace had left their food and had started moving wildly in time to the music. “Now this is what gives Slytherin a bad name,” he said irritably.
Seeing that her two friends weren’t going to get up, Ginny moved boldly over to the mass of Slytherins and started dancing with an alarmed third year. Severus gave a guffaw when he saw the third year try and escape into the crowd but failing, as the music changed and Ginny grabbed his hands for the Tango.
Severus put down his sword. “Hey, Draco.”
Draco swiped at the evasive Snitch. “Yeah?”
Severus raised an eyebrow at him. “Aren’t you going to go dance with Ginny?”
Draco turned to face him. “What?”
Severus’s eyebrows raised even further. “You heard me.”
“What?!” spluttered Draco. “No, I didn’t! I mean, I did, but… Why me? You go dance with her if you want!”
“What?” said Severus blankly.
“You dance with her!”
“Ha! Why me?”
“Because you obviously want to.”
“Stop saying ‘what’. Now, go on then, do your thing.”
“Stop saying what.”
“No, I meant go on and do what?”
“You know what.”
“No, I don’t bloody know what.”
“Well, you should.”
“Well, I don’t.”
“Well, you should.”
“Well, I don’t!”
“Well, you should.”
“DON’T SAY WHA—”
“Draco, are you going to dance with me?”
Draco blinked up at Ginny Weasley, slightly disorientated. “What?” he said blankly.
“Forget it,” snapped Ginny. “Severus, come on.”
“Oh, no,” said Snape instantly. “I refuse to touch any stu—er—one. Not anyone.”
“Well, you can touch me,” said Ginny indignantly, then blushing slightly when she realised what she had just said. “Er… come on—I’ll teach you the Tango.”
And with that, the only Weasley who had managed to intimidate Severus Snape dragged him forcefully onto the ‘dance floor’. Draco grinned at Severus’s face, gave him the thumbs up, and made his way over to the other Slytherins.
“Draco seems to be enjoying himself,” said Severus, gingerly putting his hand on her waist.
“Yes,” said Ginny absent-mindedly, grasping his other
hand and trying to ignore a sudden realisation that Severus’s chest seemed to
have grown even harder than it was at the
“Er…” continued Severus, trying to get rid of the awkwardness he was feeling. “But don’t you think Draco’s feeling left out right now, I mean because we’re dancing and…”
Ginny frowned at him. “Look, he doesn’t want to dance with me and I want to dance with you, so what’s the deal?”
“No deal,” said Severus quickly. “I mean, he really does want to dance with you...”
“Why would he?” muttered Ginny grumpily. “He’s so…”
“Don’t say boring,” interrupted Severus. “And he wants to dance with you because… er… you’re a good dancer.”
“Thanks,” said Ginny, a little surprised at the compliment. “And I was going to say he’s stupid, not boring.”
“Oh, well, that’s all right then,” said Severus dryly.
Ginny sighed. “Why do all our conversations revolve around Draco?”
Severus glanced at the blonde-haired boy who was toasting his fellow Slytherins. “Well, if you just danced with him—”
Ginny frowned. “Severus! Shut up about Draco, I want to dance with you!”
Ginny’s irritated voice carried across the room and a few of the Slytherins next to Draco snickered. Unfortunately they had heard only the last seven words of the sentence and misunderstood the meaning.
“Hear that, Malfoy,” a sixth year imitated in a high voice. “She wants to dance with you.”
Draco ignored them, and looked at Ginny with his eyebrows raised.
“See what you’ve done,” hissed Ginny to an amused Snape. “You just bloody embarrassed me.”
“Sorry,” said Severus, though sounding not in the least bit sorry. “Oh, look, Draco’s coming over now.”
Ginny stamped promptly on Severus’s foot and clapped her hand over his mouth when he was about to yell out.
“You deserved that,” she said haughtily, but hastily removing her hand at the feel of the boy’s hot lips. “Quick, tell him what I really said.”
“Hullo, Severus. Ginny.”
Ginny glanced at Draco’s smug face and gave Severus a warning look.
“Come to take over?” asked Severus politely, ignoring Ginny’s vicious jab in his shoulder.
“Oh, I don’t dance,” said Draco cautiously.
As if on cue, the music changed to a slow waltz. Ginny looked at Severus in deep suspicion and noticed his wand was sticking out of his pocket in a hurriedly replaced position.
“Everyone can waltz,” replied Severus, smiling sunnily at Ginny.
Draco followed his gaze towards Ginny. “D’you really want to?” he said hesitantly.
Ginny glared at Severus and stepped forward to shove him when she was suddenly falling…falling…falling…
Ginny looked up startled. She found herself half-lying on the enchanted snow, half-sprawled against a silky mauve chest.
“Sorry!” she heard Severus’s voice snigger above her. “I tried to warn you about that slippery ice but… oh well… I’m off to open the rest of my presents...”
Ginny moved against the silky shirt, wondering why the owner wasn’t getting up. She tilted her head upwards to find Draco looking down at her with bemused grey eyes. Ginny hastily shut her own eyes and sighed.
“Go on, say it,” she mumbled.
“What?” asked Draco.
“You know what,” said Ginny, annoyed.
“No, I don’t,” replied Draco, just as annoyed. “Why does everyone keep saying that?”
Ginny ignored him and said, “You’re supposed to say: ‘I knew you’d fall for me,’ like any normal person would in this situation.”
Draco snorted. “That’s stupid.”
“So are you,” replied Ginny half-heartedly.
“And that’s why you’re lying in the snow.”
“And that’s why you’re letting me.”
“You were the one who slipped over.”
“Only because Severus pushed me somehow…”
“Oh, come on, why would he do that?”
“Because he’s stupid,” muttered Ginny sulkily, finding the scent of Draco Malfoy strangely comforting.
“What’re you doing?”
“You’re smelling my shirt.”
“So,” said Ginny, irritated. “It stinks.”
“It does not.”
“It does,” said Ginny decidedly. “It reeks of Draco Malfoy.”
“Well, so do you.”
“You do, I can smell it in your hair.”
“You’re smelling my hair?”
“Smelt. When you went over I nearly choked on it.”
“Well, you didn’t have to catch me,” said Ginny with a glare.
“You practically fell into me! I was saving myself when I threw out my arms.”
“Oh, yes, it’s always about you, isn’t it?”
“Why else would I have caught you?”
“I’m sorry; I forgot chivalry wasn’t a characteristic of Slytherin house.”
“So am I, I forgot clumsiness was a characteristic of Gryffindor house.”
“I’m not clumsy,” replied Ginny, slightly offended.
Draco shrugged. “All right.”
“I’m not!” insisted Ginny.
She really is odd, Draco thought to himself, when I agree with her she doesn’t believe me. It’s only when I argue that she’s sure of herself.
“I don’t believe you,” replied Draco slowly.
“Ha!” said Ginny triumphantly. “I knew you wouldn’t!”
Draco just rolled his eyes. She was so predictable.
“So, are we going to dance?”
Draco blinked at her demanding words. Well, maybe she wasn’t.
“The song’s half over,” he stated.
“Well, we can’t just lie here,” reasoned Ginny, suddenly realising that they were just lying there, as they had been for half the song.
“Well, get off then,” replied Draco.
“All right,” said Ginny rather coldly, clambering to her feet. “Just don’t bother to help me up.”
“Well, I can’t even get up myself with you sprawled all over me,” retorted Draco, scrambling up after her.
“I wasn’t sprawled all over you,” Ginny replied haughtily. “And I’m rather hungry now, I think I’ll have some breakfast first, OK?”
“Good idea,” said Draco amicably. “Severus, come over!”
Ginny glared at a falling snowflake for no reason and proceeded over to the side table piled with food.
“Hullo, Weasley,” leered a Slytherin seventh-year. “Want a seat?”
The enormous boy patted his lap and promptly passed out. Ginny stepped back, startled. Draco and Severus came up behind her.
“It’s eight o’clock in the morning and this boy has already consumed fifteen Butterbeers,” commented Snape disapprovingly.
“And he’s passed out,” added Ginny in disgust.
“That’s my Slytherin!” Draco beamed, patting him on the back. “This calls for another toast!”
Severus waved a finger at him. “You have to eat something first. Don’t drink Butterbeer on an empty stomach.”
Draco smirked at him. “What’re you, your uncle? Come on, Severus, it’s Christmas! Let’s see how much of a man you are.”
“You must be joking,” interjected Ginny scathingly, “to think that drinking—”
“You too, Ginny.”
“I’m not a man,” replied Ginny with dignity. “And I don’t intend on pretending to be one by drinking the weakest beverage in the world.”
A few Slytherins who were listening whistled at this last sentence.
“Weakest beverage, eh?” challenged Draco. “And I suppose you’re an expert on Wizarding drinks?”
“I have six brothers,” replied Ginny calmly. “Of course I am.”
The crowd of Slytherins grew larger and started hooting in response.
“You know you have to back up that mighty speech, don’t you?” shot back Draco.
“Ginny, don’t,” warned Severus.
“Don’t be stupid, Draco,” said Ginny scathingly, ignoring Severus. “I’m not getting drunk in a room full of Slytherins.”
Surprisingly enough, the group of Slytherins (who were mostly boys) cheered wildly at this.
“I don’t expect you to,” replied Draco, looking at her as if she was an idiot. “But let’s see if you can beat the Master Slytherin of Sculling—which is only one Butterbeer so don’t go mental.”
“And who is this ‘Master’?” challenged Ginny, feeling rather gratified at the Slytherins encouraging whistles.
“You’re looking at him,” replied Draco coolly.
Ginny looked around the room in mock surprise. “Who? Severus?” She shrugged at the Slytherin crowd. “He’s not a Slytherin.”
Draco scowled at the titters of laughter. “No,” he said coldly. “Me.”
A bellow of ‘hell yes’ arose from the Slytherin crowd and Severus tried to restrain himself from telling them how disgraceful their behaviour was.
Ginny cleared her throat, fighting to hold back a laugh. “How did you become the ‘Master’?”
“I’ve had practise at home,” said Draco haughtily. “And I’ve beaten everyone in this room—well, maybe minus the exchange students—so beat that, Weasley.”
Ginny’s smile vanished. “Oh, so it’s Weasley now?” she exclaimed. “Very well, Malfoy, I bet I can beat you in your little sculling game. Bring it on.”
“This is childish,” said Severus sharply, as Ginny and Draco scowled at each other and prepared to bring the identical bottles to their lips.
But the rest of the room was already chanting, “Scull! Scull! Scull!” and Severus gave up exasperated, as Ginny and Draco tipped their heads back and started drinking. A roar filled the room as both throats worked furiously, which grew even louder as both bottles were slammed onto the table at the same time.
“Finished!” they coughed in unison.
Draco and Ginny stared at each other incredulously.
“I beat the whole of Slytherin!” exclaimed Draco.
“Well, that’s not saying much,” said Ginny snootily. “Since all of my brothers, even Percy, can beat me.”
“OOOH!” chorused the Slytherins.
“When you two have quite finished with this foolish contest.” Severus scowled. “I’m going to have a bite to eat.”
Draco and Ginny just stared at him, then suddenly burst into laughter.
“Oh, dear,” said Ginny. “Severus is feeling left out.”
“Here, Sev,” sniggered Draco, shoving a Butterbeer in his hands. “Your turn.”
“CARN SEVVIE!” a voluptuous girl hooted from the crowd.
“No,” retorted Severus in his most scathing voice possible. “And besides, we’ve only got about fifty more bottles to last us all for the rest of the day.”
The crowd of Slytherins – along with Draco and Ginny – all started eyeing each other silently. There was a sudden roar and Severus found himself buried under a sea of students, each trying to reach the treasured bottles for themselves.
“GET OFF!” he bellowed, struggling to get out but only succeeding in getting buried further in.
The mob of students eventually cleared away, but only after ten minutes of hasty sculling, stealing of everybody else’s bottles, and a good deal of pushing and shoving.
“Where’s Severus?” choked Draco, halfway in between gulps.
“I don’t know,” gurgled Ginny back, trying to finish off her hoard before anyone else could get to them.
“I’m here,” said a very cold voice. Severus shoved aside a certain voluptuous student, spilt Butterbeer dribbling through his hair as he glared at them from the floor. “I am going to kill you both.”
Draco laughed and kicked warm snow in reply. “Severus!” Ginny giggled, sitting down suddenly. “Severus!”
Severus scrambled to his feet, restraining the urge to throttle them. “What?”
“I think someone spiked all the bottles,” she said in a loud whisper, tickling the Slytherin third year she had danced with before (who now seemed anxious to get closer).
Glancing around at the mob of unusually blissful Slytherins, Severus swore. “Get up!” he said hastily, giving the leering third year a kick but pulling Ginny to her feet. “You’re not to drink anymore!”
“I’m not drunk!” protested Ginny indignantly, before bursting into hysterical laughter as Severus started dragging her away from the rest of the crowd.
“Sev’rus,” drawled Draco, starting to follow them but staggering over a passed out Slytherin. “What’d you do to the music? I feel like dancin’, yeah.”
The rest of the Slytherins gave an agreeing chorus and Severus rolled his eyes. “Fine,” he muttered, pointing his wand at the fireplace and flinching as the music resumed its screechy fast tune.
Reaching the other side of the common room, Severus flopped a giggling Ginny onto a couch. He glanced back at the mass of Slytherins in disapproval. They seemed to be getting very friendly with each other now, and Severus had to hastily rescue Draco from that same Slytherin third year.
“Draco, get up.” Severus glared at him, hauling the other boy to his feet and pulling back as Draco flopped over his shoulders.
“You’re ruinin’ my moves, Sev’rus,” slurred Draco over his shoulder. “I was gonna show Ginny how a real man dances…”
Draco gave an exaggerated wink and fell on his face. Severus’s glare intensified as he yanked him to his feet. “You complete and utter idiot,” he said. “Now try and walk!”
Severus half dragged, half carried Draco over to where Ginny was lying. “Finally,” he growled, bringing his wand to the other boy’s temple. “Draco, Redivivus.”
Severus shoved the Slytherin roughly to the ground and proceeded to say the same words for Ginny. “How do you feel?” he asked reprovingly.
“Mmm,” mumbled Ginny. “A bit fuzzy but OK.”
Draco rubbed his eyes. “What’d you do? I still feel sort of funny though.”
Severus crossed his arms, still feeling grumpy. “The stuff won’t hit you all at once and but it’ll last longer. You’ll probably feel like this for the rest of the day.”
Draco grinned. “I can live with that! It feels impossibly glorious, like I don’t have a care in the world.”
“Yes,” said Severus with a frown. “But if this happens again, I’m leaving you two to get groped by that promiscuous third year.”
Ginny giggled. “He was kind of cute,” she murmured.
“He was not,” argued Draco. “You have abs’lutely…no taste.”
Severus rolled his eyes. They would never be having this conversation if they were in their right frame of minds. Dwelling on that fact, Severus decided to go look at his recently acquired photo album. Perhaps it would do them some good…
“His hair was cute,” argued Ginny back. “It’s all in the hair!”
“And what’s wrong with my hair?” demanded Draco, looking slightly offended despite his ridiculous grin.
Ginny shrugged. “Nothing… But s’always the same!”
“And what’s wrong with that?”
“Nothin’… I guess it’s you.”
“What d’you mean, me?”
“I mean y’hair is you, ‘suits you.”
“Yeah, an’ that’s why it’s cute.”
“Ha! You’re not cute!”
“What? Why not?”
Draco sounded slightly hurt at her last comment and Ginny couldn’t resist going off into a fit of giggles and grabbing Draco’s arms.
“Let’s dance!” she whooped. “You said you’ve got moves… let’s see ‘em!”
“I can’t now,” argued Draco foggily. “You’ve built ‘em up too high – it’d just be rubbish!”
But Ginny just laughed and dragged him into the crowd, joining in the wild circle of euphoric Slytherins. Draco and Ginny eventually pulled over a reluctant Severus and soon all three of them were moving wildly and ungracefully to the fast-paced music. The rest of the Slytherins cheered them on, pushing them into the centre of the circle and actually toasting them when the house-elves appeared with more food (and, to Severus’s dismay, more Butterbeer).
“HERE’S T’A BLOODY EXCELLENT PAIR’F GRYFFINDORS—YOU’RE WELCOME HERE ANY TIME!” roared a red-faced Terence Higgs, who was on his nth Butterbeer.
Severus rolled his eyes, knowing that all the Gryffindor love wasn’t to last, but he soon forgot any thoughts on that matter, for the whole crowd was dancing wildly once more – on the tables, in the miniature mounds of snow they’d made, even shimmying on the ice pool next to the fire. The hours flew by, the house-elves came and went, the snow on the dance floor became more and more churned up, and only when Severus noticed that most of the Slytherins had passed out, did he realise that it was six o’clock in the evening.
Feeling quite tired himself, Severus began collecting the multitude of presents to carry back down to Draco’s dormitory, looking forward to wearing his old robes. As he went down the stairs, he briefly noticed Ginny lying back down on the couch, with a sprawled out Draco lying on the warm snow below.
“I’m dying,” complained Ginny, rolling on her stomach to scoop up a bit of snow and throw it half-heartedly at Draco. “My head feels like it’s going to implode.”
“I’m worse,” Draco groaned. “I have pains in places I didn’t know existed.”
“Well, you shouldn’t have drunk all those extra Butterbeers.” Ginny grinned, continuing to pile the magical snow upon Draco’s chest.
“You did too,” said Draco fuzzily, grabbing Ginny’s hand as she added more snow to the pile. “Stop that!”
Ginny slapped his hand lazily and tried to jerk free, only succeeding in tumbling off the couch and onto the pile of snow.
“What are you doin’?” asked Draco, in a vaguely surprised voice. “Oh, hell. I’ve lost feeling in my legs.”
“Oh, well,” mumbled Ginny, foggily realising that she was in the same position as before, half sprawled on the ground, half on his silky pyjama top. “I think I have too.”
There was a long pause.
“You like smelling my shirt, don’t you?”
“It smells of Butterbeer and sweat if you’re interested.”
“I’m not sweaty!”
“You are,” mumbled Ginny, but snuggling into the silky shirt anyway. “You’re warm too.”
“So are you,” Draco replied sleepily, trying to wriggle away from Ginny’s embrace but eventually giving up. “Sweaty, that is.”
Ginny appeared not to have heard his last words, his light breath on her neck causing her to burrow even more into his shirt. She was getting that feeling again, she thought fuzzily, that feeling she’d got when Draco had touched her neck only that morning…
“Draco,” she murmured softly.
Ginny fought the urge to shut up and just relax on the glorious silkiness of Draco’s shirt. “I…er…I’m sorry for being a prat…” she mumbled. She waited for a response but all she heard was heavy breathing. “Draco?” she murmured questioningly, sighing when she realised he’d fallen asleep.
Ginny looked up at his flushed face for a long time, noticing that even when he slept he still wore that characteristic half-frown that distinguished him from the old Malfoy she’d met in Flourish and Blotts, the one with that horrible sneer.
He hadn’t changed much, she mused absently. He still had that sharp, pointed face, though it wasn’t as pale as before, that slender frame so unlike her brothers, and that slicked back, impossibly-lighter-than-blonde hair.
Her mind was becoming clearer now, and she suddenly realised she was still lying on Draco’s chest, with one of her hands tracing patterns over the silky mauve material. Ginny hastily shook herself and rolled clumsily off. She sat up and glanced once more at the Slytherin’s face, noticing that she had accidentally kicked a bit of snow on his cheek when she’d moved.
Hesitantly, Ginny brought her hand to his frowning face and tentatively brushed the snow away. Draco breathed deeply at her touch, resulting in a sharp intake of breath from her. Without thinking and guided by an impulse she couldn’t control, Ginny bent down and pressed her lips against his.
In a sudden daze she pulled back, noticing in the back of her mind that Draco’s frown had deepened instead of melted away. She could still feel the imprint of his lips against hers though…but what the hell was she doing?!
“Ginny, all set?”
Ginny looked around, disoriented and still in shock. “Severus?” she asked tentatively.
“Here,” said the voice of Severus Snape, coming into focus as he offered her a hand up. “You wanted to go to the Christmas feast in the Great Hall tonight?”
“Y—yes,” replied Ginny somewhat reluctantly, her minding clearing as she was pulled up by a muscular arm. “Only if you’ll come though.”
“I have to keep an eye on you anyway,” replied Severus grimly. “I don’t think Draco will be able to make it though.”
Ginny jerked at the mention of his name and blinked down at the sleeping boy beneath them. She felt a sudden urge to back quickly away, a slight flush appearing on the back of her neck as she thought of that stolen kiss…
“Ginny, are you all right?”
Ginny smiled weakly at Severus; his words sounded slightly concerned, anxious even. “So long as you’re with me,” she murmured, linking her arm through his and not looking back as they exited the common room.
The corridors were still and deserted as the unlikely pair of Gryffindors padded through them.
Ginny looked across at a silent Severus and noticed that he had changed back into his original black robes he had worn that morning. She looked down at herself and realised that she was still in her bright blue pyjamas, and also bare foot.
“Severus! I can’t go to the feast like this!” she squealed.
Severus glanced at her in surprise. “Well…” he reasoned. “Just fasten your cloak over you and I’ll run back for some shoes.”
Ginny nodded as Severus left her side and sprinted back to the Slytherin common room a few staircases down. She had forgotten about her fur cloak, and she brought the thick material around her comfortingly. She peered at a nearby coat of armour and hastily tried to fix her hair, zapping it with her wand in uneven spots. Unfortunately, the armour kept on moving so her hair ended up looking much the same as it did before, tousled and falling all over her shoulders.
“Here,” said Severus, returning with a pair of shoes. “I borrowed a pair of Draco’s because I couldn’t find any others. Had to run down to his dorm.”
Ginny giggled slightly at the shoes. They were black-green with slightly pointy ends…they were going to clash horribly with her fur cloak and blue pyjamas…
“I even brought socks,” continued Severus generously.
Ginny giggled even louder when she slipped on the socks. They were a familiar shade of erotic mauve…
“All set?” asked Severus, smoothing back his perfect hair. “I’m starving, aren’t you?”
“Yes!” she exclaimed in shock. “I haven’t eaten all day!” Severus gave her an exasperated look and Ginny grinned back. “Race you.”
“All right,” he said grudgingly, and they both ran up the wide corridor, robes billowing after them.
Albus Dumbledore looked up in surprise as two breathless students burst into the Great Hall. Everyone had already eaten and most had taken to shyly dancing upon the cleared, glowing dance floor, to the music of a jaunty-looking Wizarding band.
Ginny gasped for breath as she playfully shoved her companion back out the doors. “I won,” she declared, looking in delight at the beautifully decorated hall. Her eyes fell on the lavish spread still on the side tables. “Severus, look, they haven’t put away the food yet!”
“Thank you, Merlin,” Severus muttered to himself, gazing hungrily at the enormous carved roast.
The two Gryffindors lost no time in piling their plates and tucking in. Ginny was just going back for a third helping when a familiar voice behind her made her freeze.
The chewing Gryffindor hurriedly wiped her mouth with a napkin and turned cautiously around. “Hullo, Harry,” she mumbled, the sudden vivid image of that black hair and green eyes bringing her back to reality and making her realise that she was still in her pyjamas.
“Where were you all day?” he asked dully, his gaze flicking between her and Severus in a way that made her feel suddenly guilty.
“Excuse me,” sneered Severus to Harry, glaring at Dumbledore in annoyance. “But the Headmaster wants me. Sorry, Ginny.”
“That’s OK,” mumbled Ginny, not daring to look Harry in the eyes for reasons she couldn’t understand.
Harry ignored the larger boy and faced Ginny once more. “I was looking for you all day,” he said quietly. “–everyone was. We were all worried about you, worried that you were off with Malfoy somewhere…”
“And what if I was?” Ginny cut in squeakily.
Harry jerked back and Ginny felt a sudden burst of hatred for herself. “No, no,” she whispered. “I mean…I did spend the day with him, and Severus…but I…”
“No, it’s fine, really,” muttered Harry, looking away. “You don’t need to make excuses to me… or Ron, or Hermione, it’s obvious you don’t need us worrying about you or…or caring about you anymore, now that you’ve got Malfoy and Snape by your side instead of one of us—”
“Harry, stop!” Ginny exclaimed half-tearfully. “I do! I do need—I…I want you to still care about me—I…I still care about…”
Ginny’s voice trailed away but Harry shook his head.
“I thought you’d have wanted to spend Christmas day with us,” he said in a low voice, gradually getting louder. “Just like every other year… But I was obviously wrong… wrong and stupid.”
Harry’s voice had risen quite loudly and a few students were glancing curiously over.
“Harry, you’re not!” said Ginny in distress at the suddenness of his tone. “I’m sorry for being such a prat—”
“No!” cut in Harry angrily, but then recoiling at her shocked face. “No…” he repeated softly, after a long pause. “I’m sorry for being such a prat, it’s my fault…and I am stupid…and I’m sorry…”
Harry shook his head in self-disgust, a tired expression fleeting across his famous face as he gazed at her wistfully. Ginny gazed back in shock and froze as he hesitantly bent down and kissed her on the cheek. “I’m sorry,” he repeated clearly.
“Holy flipping fwoopers!” yelled Fred Weasley. “Harry’s smooching our sister!”
“What’s all this?!” roared George, elbowing his way past his twin to look at them sternly.
Harry gave Ginny a sheepish smile, which Ginny returned quite dazedly. Harry Potter had just kissed her, she shrieked inside her head, Harry Potter!
“What? Ginny’s back? And HARRY KISSED HER?” Ron demanded, tearing himself away from the dance floor and running up the two of them. “Is this true?”
Ron took one look at the two flushing faces and jumped back in shock. “Oh, that’s disgusting,” he said reprovingly, looking at his best friend as if he had sprouted an extra head. “Harry, this is Ginny. Ginny!”
Harry gave Ron a surprised grin and looked back at his glowing sister.
“I know.” He smiled, offering her his arm and leading her slowly out on the dance floor. “Strange how things turn out…”
A few yards away a brooding boy was staring at them bitterly, ignoring even a comment on the quills in his hair from a certain Defence Against the Dark Arts Professor.
“Yes,” Severus growled to himself. “Bloody stupid how things turn out if you ask me…”
Through tons and tons of stone, far below the Great Hall, a single Slytherin awoke just enough to pick himself up and stagger down to his dormitory. He collapsed on his bed, vaguely remembering the day as a fanciful blur, and trying to remember an even more fanciful dream he’d been having just before, where Ginny Weasley had kissed him briefly upon the lips…
Draco shook himself awake and felt something crinkle in his pocket. He took out the crumpled note lazily and started to read.
‘Dear Draco, I know we’re on opposite sides for Quidditch, but I do hope you’ll wear this cloak for good luck. Love, Ginny’.
The last two words echoed in his head like church heralds.
Draco half-smiled to himself, as he remembered her tousled hair spread out on his chest.
Nothing could ruin this day, he thought to himself. Nothing.
Several floors above, a sudden tingle in her right palm made Ginny pause as she moved her head to meet Harry Potter’s lips with her own beneath the mistletoe. Closing her eyes she pushed the tingle away, and tried to enjoy the first proper kiss that she’d only experienced with Harry in her dreams… even if the scent of Draco Malfoy on her robes threatened to engulf her.
A/N: “Why do you always insist on wearing black?”
“Because it matches my soul.”
- A line nabbed from the movie, ‘That Darn Cat’.
Fwoopers: are in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them