"'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse."
"Eww! What sort of awful house has mice?"
"I think Crookshanks would like it if we had mice!"
Hermione glanced up and raised a brow at her children who, by now, had become deeply embroiled in a discussion on the merits of house mice. Gently, she cleared her throat and their gazes snapped back to her, though Scorpius looked prepared to continue his argument at any moment, and Rose was squeezing Crookshanks much tighter than he enjoyed.
Lips twitching to hide her smile, Hermione continued on. "The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there. The children were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads. And mamma in her kerchief and I in my cap, had–"
This time, the interruption came in the form of a snicker, not from the children on the floor in front of her, but from the man next to her. Hermione turned to meet the amused gaze of her husband. "Yes, Draco?" she asked, her tone overly patient. Honestly, if the man was going to insist she pick their evening story, the least he could do is let her read!
"Oh, it's nothing," he replied with a wicked gleam in his eye. "Just imagining you in a kerchief, dearest."
Hermione rolled her eyes as the children burst into a fit of giggles, mentally formulating any number of replies, none of which were suitable for little ears. Instead, she simply continued reading, though there may have been a stress on the first line.
"Had just settled our brains for a long winter's nap, when out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter. Away to the window I flew like a flash, tore open the shutters and threw up the sash. The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow, gave a lustre of midday to objects below, when what to my wondering eyes did appear, but a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer, with a little old driver so lively and quick, I knew in a moment he must be St. Nick. More rapid than eagles his coursers they came, and he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name: "Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer!–"
"Mummy?" Rose interrupted, sounding as serious as a five year old was able. "Reindeer can't fly, they aren't magic."
Hermione smiled. "How do you know they aren't magical, dear?"
"Scorpius told me so." Hermione pursed her lips in a smile as Draco chuckled.
"He did!" Rose protested.
And of course, he had. Scorpius had recently decided it was his brotherly duty to answer any question his sister could possibly think to ask, something that had become quite the adventure in the Malfoy household.
"Yes, well, Scorpius is right, of course. But it makes for a lovely Christmas story, doesn't it?"
Rose considered this for a moment, glancing sideways at her older brother before nodding in solemn agreement.
"I don't see why reindeer couldn't fly." Draco said suddenly, looking far too intrigued by the idea. Both Scorpius and Rose's eyes went comically wide as all of their attention shifted to their father.
"Oh can we please have a flying reindeer for Christmas?"
"Can I show Lily our reindeer?"
"Can I play Quidditch on a reindeer, do you think?"
Hermione raised her eyes heavenward as she shut her book, there certainly wouldn't be any finishing the poem now. Instead, she joined her children in staring expectantly at Draco.
"Yes, Draco, can we have a flying reindeer for Christmas?" Her smirk as he squirmed for an answer was eerily reminiscent of the expression he was so known for.
"Well, I…" The tolling of a bell interrupted him, the clock in the hall slowly chiming nine times. "Oh thank Merlin," he muttered under his breath, earning a laugh from Hermione. Leaping to his feet, he announced, "Bedtime!" with far more enthusiasm than was warranted.
His proclamation was met with the expected moans and groans, but a reminder that Christmas morning would only come sooner proved to be motivation enough. The children paused only long enough to kiss their mother goodnight before scampering from the room, chattering excitedly along the way as their father chased after them.
Later that night, long after the children were nestled all snug in their beds and Draco and Hermione had retired to their own bed, though admittedly sans kerchief and cap, Hermione woke with a start.
She lay still for a long moment, hearing nothing but Draco's soft snores. She was a naturally deep sleeper, and nearly convinced she had dreamt the whole thing when she heard it again.
Thud, clonk, clatter, thud.
"Draco!" She hissed, gripping the arm that was wrapped about her waist.
"Mmmgrmph," he grunted, tightening his hold.
"Draco, wake up!"
"Hmm…what is it, darling?"
She rolled over to face him, nearly nose to nose as she whispered, "There's something on the roof."
At this, his eyes flew open, a sense of excitement tingeing his steel-grey gaze. A vague sense of foreboding washed over Hermione, she'd seen that expression before. "Draco, tell me there are not flying reindeer on our roof right now."
He shrugged with a childlike grin. "Well, more of abraxans with antlers strapped on, if we're being technical."
Hermione made a noise that was somewhere between a laugh and a groan as she buried her face in a pillow. "You're the one that will be cleaning horse shit off the roof tomorrow," she mumbled.
Draco chuckled as the excited squeals of the Malfoy children echoed from down the hall. "And you'll love every moment of it, bossy witch."
Hermione burst into laughter, her entire body shaking as he dropped a kiss near her ear.
"Merry Christmas, Draco."
"Merry Christmas, love."