Draco Malfoy & Ginny Weasley...
"I look ridiculous."
"You look very handsome."
"Of course, but that doesn't prevent the ridiculousness. Why am I in this... peasant wear?"
"Because you're meeting my parents and I thought it might endear you to my dad if he saw you in Muggle clothes."
"Yes, but jeans?"
Ginny walked an appraising circle around Draco, giving his denim-clad arse a pat. "I think you should wear them all the time," she said, grinning mischievously as she picked stray bits of lint from his sweater.
Draco wiggled an eyebrow. "Well, you never know what you might find beneath my robes, darling. You'll just have to go looking more often."
Ginny laughed as he pulled her to him dramatically and made little growling noises against her throat. "Stop it," she half-heartedly admonished. "We have to be ready for my... parents."
And there, right on cue... watching them with mouths agape... stood Arthur and Molly Weasley.
Ron Weasley & Hermione Granger...
Having just seen his parents (and been hugged an inordinately large number of times for a five minute visit), Ron was watching as his mum and dad made their way through the crowds of King's Cross Station to the scene they came upon. He chuckled and tugged on his girlfriend's sleeve.
"Uh oh! Look at that, Hermione!"
"Oh dear," she said when she saw. "Probably not the best way to start the holidays. Poor Ginny."
"Poor Ginny, nothing! My sister chose the evil git, and she has to deal with all that goes with him. I'm just happy it's my parents that have to be exposed to that... bleaaahh... and not me, for a change."
"Is that all you're happy about? That you're getting a break from Ginny and Draco's snogging sessions?"
"No, of course that's not all."
"I should hope not," she smiled, keeping her eyes peeled for her parents.
"No school for ten days? I'm thrilled!... Ow!"
Hermione had thwapped her best friend of five years... now boyfriend of almost seven weeks... upside his very red head.
"Did I forget the most important part?" Ron quickly added, rubbing his head. "Which is how happy I am to be spending the holidays with you and your family?"
"Oh, Ronald!" She kissed him on the cheek for that.
He grinned, but couldn't help himself, shaking his head and muttering, "Women."
Just as she looked like she might hit him again, they heard a voice say, "You were right as always, Hermione. You two are like a Tracy-Hepburn movie."
Ron felt good seeing Hermione embrace her parents, knowing how much she'd missed them. Meanwhile, he stood nervously awaiting the boyfriend inspection, and wondering who this Tracy Hepburn bird was.
Harry Potter & Pansy Parkinson...
"How can you possibly need this much luggage?"
"Not all of us are so self-sufficient as to get along with only one proud little duffel bag, Harry."
"But how can you even have room for all this stuff at Hogwarts? And why don't you just... whew... magically make it all fit in one suitcase?"
"Because I like to make a statement!" Pansy declared, then turned around and saw how positively overloaded with her bags Harry was. "Oh, babe, I'm sorry!" She ran over, gave him a tiny kiss of apology on the lips, and took two of the larger matching bags off his hands.
"I'm impressed," he said, following behind her.
"Hey, I'm strong. If it were summer and you were wearing some little T-shirt, I might let you keep on by yourself just to see those muscles on display. But, as it's winter and you're sadly covered up by layers, there's no joy in watching you suffer."
Harry laughed, a little more easily now under slightly less weight. She really was the most oddly sweet girl. "You're all heart, Pan."
"I know! Aren't you lucky I decided to claim you and gave you no choice but to adore me?"
She stopped and looked over her shoulder at the sincerity in his green eyes, and gave him a wink of acknowledgement. I heart that boy, she thought, as they kept walking. I hope he's not too upset with me when he finds out...
"Pansy? Where are your parents?"
"Hmm? Oh, they're not coming. Look, there's a car for us!"
Before he could try to figure out the secretive little glint in her eye, they were depositing Pansy's mountain of luggage at the feet of a man holding a sign that said "Parkinson-Potter."
"Damn, that looks good hyphenated."
"What? I didn't say anything!" she giggled. "Onward to Parkinson Manor!"
"Hi Mum, Dad," said Ginny brightly, trying to pretend nothing was wrong. Because really, nothing was! Just because her parents' heads looked about to explode...
"Ginevra Weasley, we didn't teach you to carry on this way in public!" her mother scolded.
Everyone turned at the sound of Draco's rather moronic-sounding low chuckle. Ginny rolled her eyes and hid a smile.
"Oh, sorry, ahem. I really enjoy her first name."
Ginny cut in before her parents could respond. "And precisely how was I carrying on? I was in the arms of my boyfriend, and I was enjoying myself. Ooh, how scandalous. We weren't even kissing! You and Dad are always kissing in public!"
"What Ginny means is..." Draco nearly stepped back from the I-can't-believe-you-are-daring-to-speak-for-me glare he was getting from her. Still, he placed a reassuring hand on her back and held his ground, addressing her parents. "She's missed you."
Mr. and Mrs. Weasley blinked at each other, chose not to think about Draco Malfoy just yet, and instead rushed at their only daughter with months of unbestowed hugs.
"Oof! Okay... we can do this at home." Ginny glimpsed Draco over her dad's shoulder, standing out of the way, and turned her parents to face him. "Now, Mum... Dad... meet Draco, my boyfriend. Draco, these are my parents, Arthur and Molly Weasley."
Draco cleared his throat and extended his hand. He shook Mr. Weasley's before it was even offered. He wanted to kiss Mrs. Weasley's hand, but he was afraid she would smack him if he did, so he quickly shook hers as well. "Pleasure to meet you both... without my father present."
"Well, I'll agree with that last part," muttered Mr. Weasley. "Er, what I meant to say," he continued, seeing the look on his daughter's face, "was... was..."
"Let's get back to the Burrow, shall we?" filled in Mrs. Weasley, who began walking hurriedly, leaving it to the rest to keep up with her.
Mr. Weasley picked up Ginny's bags just as Draco reached for them. So, Draco carried his own magically enhanced (to fit three bags' worth of stuff in one) suitcase, holding onto Ginny with the other hand. The icy silence from her parents, even in the noisy, overcrowded train station, was coming through cold and clear. He decided to make an effort.
"I just want to say, ahem... thank you for inviting me to your home for the holidays."
"Goodness, Ginny. You've trained him well," quipped Mrs. Weasley.
"Mum!" Ginny shook her head, not even wanting to bother with her mother at the moment. "Dad, what do you think of Draco's clothes? Do you like them?"
"Why... yes, I do," her dad admitted, really noticing the Muggle wear for the first time. "Can't be your usual style, can it? Oh, goodness, are those Nikes?"
"I believe so. Ginny conjured it all up and dressed me head to toe... Not that she saw me naked or anything," Draco unnecessarily volunteered. He then noticed both of her parents seemed to be walking faster.
"Draco, sweetie," whispered Ginny. "You're not helping."
"So... this is Ron, hmm?"
"Dad, don't be silly. You and Mum have met Ron before."
"Polite introductions here at the train station or in that magic bookshop are fine for meeting your daughter's friend. When he gets upgraded to boyfriend, it's an entirely different matter," said Mr. Granger, with a slight chuckle at Hermione's embarrassment.
Ron just grinned as widely as possible, trying to show off his good oral hygiene. Since her parents were dentists, he had worked to make his smile the best it had ever been and impress them. He'd brushed and brushed his teeth until the bristles on his toothbrush had fallen off, and even flossed and whitened with these gooey little strip things (after begging his dad for Muggle dental supplies, rather than risking a spell gone wrong). Hermione had noticed and said it was all completely unnecessary, although she'd admitted his smile took her breath away even more than usual lately.
"My word, Hermione. What a lovely smile he has," her mother noted. "Why did I never notice before? Maybe I was distracted by the gorgeous red hair," she laughed, good-naturedly.
"It's because my smile wasn't this big or this bright until Hermione said she'd be my girlfriend," said Ron.
It was hard to believe the years it took him to consciously realize how much of a girl Hermione really was. She and her mother turned to each other, tears in their eyes, and held hands, making fawning sounds like they'd just seen the world's cutest, tiniest puppy. Mr. Granger clapped Ron on the back and whispered in his ear.
"Well said, m'boy. Keep saying things that smartly romantic and you'll make a darn good husband one day."
"Uh, I did mean it, sir," Ron told him, trying not to freak out at mention of the word husband.
Hermione's dad laughed. "I know, I know you did. You think I want my daughter married to a liar? C'mon, everyone, to the car!"
All Ron could do was squeak as the others began to move. Finally, Hermione grabbed his hand and pulled him along with her.
"See? They adore you! Ron? Ron?" She looked around, thinking maybe he'd seen a spider, until she heard him.
"Married," he barely managed to whisper. And he kept repeating it to himself almost the entire car ride, staring off into space, until Hermione put a stop to it.
"Daddy, what did you say to Ron? You didn't say anything about he and I... getting..." She could tell by the not quite concealed amusement on his face. "Daddy, that's mean! Why would you do that?"
"I wasn't trying to be mean, darling, honestly. I was trying to show Ron my support. And I guess I wanted to see how he would react."
"This is the boy it took me five years to get to hold my hand without being paralyzed with fear. Will you please just tell him you were kidding?"
"Howard, it's not going to be much of a Christmas with Ron in this coma you seem to have put him in," her mother added.
Howard Granger kept driving, glancing in the rearview mirror at Ron. "Hey, Ron, listen... you are forbidden to marry my daughter, ever." He turned to his wife. "How was that, Mel?"
Melanie Granger peeked over her shoulder and saw Ron blinking in apparent confusion. Still, he was looking a bit less panicked. "Unnecessarily extreme in the other direction, dear, but at least he's breathing now."
"Ron?" In the backseat, Hermione comfortingly smoothed down rogue strands of Ron's hair. "I'm sorry about my dad. You do know he was only kidding, don't you?"
"Oh, sure... sure." Ron laughed a nervous laugh, like the kind he usually let out right before ingesting one of the twins' new goodies. Then he abruptly stopped. "Wait, he was kidding about what he said before? Or what he said just now?"
Hermione crinkled her brow for a second. "Both, I suppose? But I was talking about what he said before we got to the car. You can relax, all right?" With a knowing smile, she sat back for the remainder of the ride, her head resting lightly on his shoulder.
She knew him well, but even she would have been surprised by what was upsetting Ron at that moment... the possibility that he had just been forbidden to marry her.
The luxurious silver towncar pulled up outside of the biggest house Harry had ever seen. He slid out first, then offering his hand to Pansy to help her out, his eyes jumping back and forth from his girlfriend to her palatial home.
"So this is..."
"Parkinson Manor," she completed his statement of the obvious. "Yes, it is. Ahh, it's good to be home. Come on, I'll show you around!"
Pansy performed a quick locomotor spell on the luggage to make it follow them in without being carried, and then raced up to the front door, Harry right behind her. He watched as she touched a finger to the door, just barely, and it opened. Not only did it open, but it greeted her, in a disembodied but friendly voice that said, "Welcome home and happy holidays, Miss Parkinson. You've been missed."
"Thank you," Pansy replied warmly.
"Did you just say thank you to the door?"
"No, of course not. I said it to the house."
"So... this house is enchanted to speak and respond?"
"Not exactly. She's a living home."
"A living... What does that mean?"
"Just what you think it means. This house is alive. Bwaahahaha."
Harry smiled, amused by Pansy's attempt at spooky fingers and an evil laugh. "I didn't know a house could be... alive. Is that common in the wizarding world?"
"Not at all. As far as I know, Parker's the only one."
"I call her Parker. Parkinson Manor, you know. I don't even know the full story. Let's just say my parents like to make a statement as well. And not only do they have a lot of power in this world, but they have serious connections in top level Muggle government."
Harry's voice dropped to a furtive whisper, as hers had. "Wow… I have no idea what that means."
Pansy laughed, shrugging. "Me neither. Except that the house was a way for my parents to go out all the time and not even have to hire a sitter."
"I'm really not sure how I feel about meeting them."
"Oh, well... good. Because they're not here. And they won't be, until we're well back at Hogwarts."
"No, they've gone to Fiji for the holidays. Did I not mention that?"
"No, I don't think you did."
"Sorry. It's just us, babe."
"Pan, what am I going to do with you?"
Her arms snuck around him and she held him close. "I'm sure you'll think of something."
He had a few ideas. But he also now had the strangest feeling... like the house was watching.
"Well, here we are!"
"Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, I love your home. It's so quaint, so… lived-in. Ow!"
Ginny had jabbed Draco in the ribs just hard enough to halt his "compliments" before her mother seethed to a nice shade of purple.
"Pardon me, everyone," said Mr. Weasley, retreating to his study. "Just a bit of work to finish up before I can start the holiday!"
"Fred, George, show our guest to Percy's room, please," Mrs. Weasley loudly commanded, despite the "please," and with only the smallest flicker of sadness at the mention of her absent son.
Ginny ran up and hugged her brothers as they appeared, happy to see they had managed to pull themselves away from their shop for a bit. She whispered a warning (she knew was of no real use) to be nice to Draco.
"Gin, we're hurt," said Fred, with a mock look of devastation.
"We're always nice," agreed George. "C'mon, Malfoy. We should warn you, though. This room turns its occupants into complete gits."
Fred, right on cue… "Oops! Too late!"
Ginny stood on tiptoe to smack them both across the back of the head. "Mum, I could show Draco to his room, you know."
"No, no, no! I need your help in the kitchen, dear! Lots to do for supper!"
"More like keeping me far away from any space that has you and a bed," Ginny said under her breath to Draco, shaking her head.
"Can't really blame her there. I am damn difficult to resist."
"True. Go on up, get settled. Just don't take anything the twins give you."
She pressed a quick kiss to his lips, relaxing his slightly frightened expression, and watched him follow Fred and George, who were still rubbing where she'd given them what for. Then she heard the unmistakable sound of breaking glass and whirled around to her mother.
"Mum, are you all right?"
"Fine, dear, fine! Oh… reparo," she muttered absentmindedly, fixing the glass, but obviously still distracted. Ginny would be willing to bet it was the less than two second kiss she'd planted on Draco that had made her mother start dropping things.
"He's my boyfriend, mum."
"Believe me, I know that, Ginny," Mrs. Weasley sighed.
"But you don't seem to know yet that it isn't the end of the world. It's actually a good thing." Looking around, all the chopping and mixing and general cooking seemed to be magically taking care of itself. Ginny came up beside her mother and leaned her head against her arm. "I know you don't know him yet. Just realize that not knowing the good means maybe you don't really know the bad. He is trying."
Mrs. Weasley nodded a bit, almost against her will. "He seems to be."
"So, could you maybe just… let him? For me?"
"I'll do my best, dear," Mrs. Weasley acquiesced, kissing her only daughter's forehead. "I can't speak for your father, however."
Ginny smiled. Despite the legendary overprotectiveness of fathers, and her own father's legendary hatred for Draco's family, her dad was pretty laid-back and was already proving more open than her mum to giving Draco a chance.
"Now… expanded house rules for this holiday! No being in his room after ten p.m.! No being in his room alone at any time without the door opened at least this far…"
Ginny groaned as her mother illustrated with her arms and poured herself some pumpkin juice, prepared for a long list.
"So, that's Tracy Hepburn, huh? She's pretty."
Ron and Hermione were sitting on the Granger couch watching some of Hermione's favorite old movies: Woman of the Year, to be followed by Adam's Rib. Her parents had started out watching with them, but soon they'd left the "youngsters" alone.
"I meant to say, she's talented and I respect her as a person!"
"Ron, it's all right," Hermione laughed. "I'm making fun because they're two different people. The man is Spencer Tracy. The woman is Katherine Hepburn."
"Oh! Then why do you say them like one name, like they're one person?"
"It's like us, I suppose."
Ron's nose crinkled in confusion. "What do you mean?"
"You know. Whenever anyone refers to us, it's always RonandHermione. Together. And it's been that way for years, long before we started dating. Even Harry does it."
"I think Harry does it the most."
"Because he knows us the best. He could see, even though on the surface we were always fighting, really it was just a form of flirtation. Just like with these two."
Ron looked back to the screen to which Hermione was gesturing. Sure enough, they were railing at each other again, but Ron would bet money (if he had any) they'd be snogging in the next scene.
He wrapped his arm around her shoulders, hand sinking into curls of too much hair and playing with the softness. "If you were raised on these movies, then how come it took you all these years to figure me out? Figure us out?"
"Because it was real life. No matter how much we may have seemed like Tracy & Hepburn from the outside, I knew my heart wasn't going by a script. I couldn't be sure your movie was the same as mine, until you took the chance."
"I thought you took the chance first."
"No. First move, maybe, but you took the chance. You wouldn't let either of us pretend 'just friends' anymore. You made it clear it was more."
"I got tired of waiting for you, 'Mione."
Her smile warmed him more than the fireplace that crackled just beyond their sock feet, as she told him, "You were always the bravest of all of us."
"Me?" Ron would have put himself last in that regard, at least of the three of them.
"Yes, you. I seem to recall a little boy on a giant chess piece, charging ahead into certain doom to save his friends."
"Yeah, but that was… that was… Blimey, we were barely twelve."
"I think my heart was yours from then on, Ron."
He had been hers even earlier, but this declaration from Hermione had just made his holiday, if not his life. Her hand found its way into his, and he brought it to his lips and kissed it… unsure of his ability to carry off a romantic gesture like that, but so sure of the feeling behind it that he didn't care.
"Then that blasted headache I woke up with was worth it even more than I knew," he grinned.
Howard and Melanie Granger watched their daughter and her boyfriend from the end of the hall, and found themselves cuddling similarly at their sweetness.
"This is your room?"
"This is it."
"Are you sure it's not a department store, or a museum, or… housing for a small country, or something?"
Pansy chuckled, watching Harry's head whip back and forth (she'd have to give him a little neck rub later), taking everything in, such a look of astonishment on his face. She might have taken the question as insulting from someone she liked less, but not only did she adore her boyfriend, she had also acquired a fairly good understanding of where he was coming from.
"I'm rich, Harry. I can't help it. I am spoiled mercilessly, and I have a very big room. Kind of goes with the huge mansion."
"Sorry, Pan. You did warn me."
"Yes, I did."
Harry paused, having spotted something on her dresser that caught his eye. "Not about this, though. What is this?" He picked up the photograph, only to have Pansy try to snatch it out of his hand.
"Oh, that's nothing! Just… childish silliness. Harry, put it down!"
They were about the same height, and she was determined, but Harry had the quickness of a champion Seeker. He ran with the photo and jumped up on her canopy bed to get a better look at it. He watched as a very young Pansy… perhaps five years old… twirled and danced about in a fluffy pink tutu.
"This is so cute! Why didn't you want me to see it?"
Pansy sighed. "It's just silly. I was a terrible dancer. And I was fat."
"What? You were not fat! But I know I'm wasting my breath there. You think you're fat now…" He shook his head as he trailed off. She was one of the slenderest girls at Hogwarts.
"No, I never said that, I just said that the school robes aren't exactly slimming."
"Good, because you're beautiful now and then. And you're as good a dancer as I imagine any little girl could be."
Pansy climbed up on the bed and sat beside Harry, bumping him with her shoulder. "You're full of it, Potter. Absolutely crackers. I'm so glad you're mine."
He smiled and kissed her lightly on soft, red lips, glad for the same. Before he could become completely distracted by the grown-up version, he found his eyes drawn once more to the child Pansy.
"What are you looking for?" he wondered aloud.
"What… do you mean?"
"Even as you're dancing, you keep looking around, like you're waiting for something or someone."
"Oh… my parents. It was a recital. I was waiting for them to show up."
"They weren't there yet? Who took the picture?"
"The teacher, I think… They never came. They never did to that sort of thing. Always had… important things to do."
Harry hated how matter-of-fact she was about it, because he could tell there was sadness underneath. His fingers stroked over her smooth, nearly jet black, shoulder-length hair. "I'm sorry."
Her eyes widened at him. "Harry, are you seriously apologizing to me for my childhood? After what you've told me about your growing up, living with those horrible Muggles?"
"Yes. Because, as much as I wish my parents were still alive and that I could have by raised by them, the one thing that made my situation with the Dursleys bearable was that they weren't my parents. The way they treated me made me angry more than anything else. But to be ignored like that by your mum and dad has to hurt."
"Maybe," she relented, then nuzzled close to his ear. "But it's also allowed us to be here alone for Christmas, so I am not complaining."
"You have a marvelous way of looking at things. Did I ever tell you that?"
Ginny decided against knocking on Draco's door and just went inside. She was rewarded for this decision with one very hot, shirtless boyfriend. She pushed the door behind her until it was open just a crack and hurried over, placing eager hands on his skin before he could cover up.
Draco scrambled a bit, but didn't move completely out of her arms. "Ginny! What if your parents walk in? They hate me enough as it is!"
"Mmm, sadly you're right," she said, taking the dress shirt in his hand and helping him pull it on. She stopped at the look on his face. "I mean about my parents walking in! Not… the hating you part."
"Well… no. You've only exchanged a few less than pleasant pleasantries so far. It'll take time, and you just got here. Relax." Finishing buttoning him up, she smoothed the material, and hopefully tension from his muscles at the same time. "Why are you dressing up?"
"Because I'm still foolishly trying to make a good impression!"
"Don't try so hard. Just sit next to me. Only grope me under the table as much as you absolutely need to get through the evening. And ask for seconds of everything my mum gives you."
"Ugh," moaned Draco, already foreseeing the indigestion. But he quickly replaced it with determination. "I can do that." He smiled at his beautiful redhead. "You and me, right?"
She smiled back. "You and me."