‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the castle, only two students remained who had stayed back for the holidays. Hermione Granger was in a pensive mood as she stared at the fire crackling in the hearth.
She loved Christmas, but being one of only two students left at the school over the holidays had made her melancholy. As a child, she’d always enjoyed celebrating Christmas with her parents, and as she grew older, sometimes with the Weasleys. Last year, hunting Horcruxes, she almost hadn’t realized the date, and neither she nor Harry had been in the mood to celebrate in any case.
This year was similar in that she was alone, save for the company of a male friend. The difference was that it was Draco Malfoy, and not one of her best friends, who was with her.
Hermione frowned moodily at the flames. The Weasleys had invited her for Christmas Eve dinner but she’d declined, as the complex potion she was brewing to reverse her parents’ memory alterations required her constant attention and was the reason she chose to stay at Hogwarts over the holidays. She’d join them for Christmas lunch, but couldn’t stay too long. It would be nice to see Harry and Ron- especially Ron. They’d ended their romantic relationship 3 weeks into the school term, and both were happier for it. Perhaps they’d tried too hard, but neither of them much enjoyed being a couple. They’d started feeling the strain when Ron began Auror training, and when Hermione returned to Hogwarts, they’d both decided that they were better off as friends. With less expectations and less pressure they appreciated each other more, and the constant fighting and sarcasm stopped. In fact, Ron had mentioned in his last owl something about a girl he’d met at training. Hermione wondered if she’d be present at Christmas lunch too.
“If you keep frowning like that, your face will be stuck in that expression forever.”
Hermione blinked, startled out of her reverie. She glared at Draco, who had just entered the Gryffindor common room. Professor McGonagall had (looking with amused disbelief at the unlikely friends) agreed to let Draco have a room at Gryffindor tower over the holidays, as they were the only two students left and it was Christmas, after all.
“It might be an improvement, though,” Draco smirked.
Hermione rolled her eyes. “I thought that was a Muggle notion, about your face freezing.”
Draco shrugged. “I think it probably dates back to before the Statute of Secrecy. Anyway. Hot chocolate?” He gestured at the tray floating beside him with two steaming mugs on top of it.
“That would be lovely, thank you.” Hermione smiled and reached for a mug.
“You’re welcome. You look like you could do with it.”
Hermione grimaced. “Yeah, well. It’s a rather sad and sorry Christmas Eve, isn’t it?”
“It is, but better than last year, I suppose.” His face darkened as he recalled the previous Christmas, when Voldemort had been living at the Manor, terrorizing his family. That hadn’t felt like Christmas at all. Although his parents were still in Ministry custody awaiting their trials, Draco could definitely feel the Christmas cheer more this year. He gave Hermione a grin. “And the company’s not too bad, is it?"
“No, I suppose it isn’t.” Hermione returned his grin, and savoured the hot chocolate. Honestly, this was a side of Draco that not many people saw.
It would come as a surprise to most people, Harry and Ron included, that Draco and Hermione had formed a tentative friendship all the way back in fourth year. It had started when Draco warned Hermione about the Death Eaters at the Quidditch World Cup, and after she’d thanked him later on at school they began to meet and converse on occasion. It was Draco who’d told her about House Elves, and because of his descriptions that she’d founded S.P.E.W. He refused to join, but he did still have a S.P.E.W. badge in his trunk- a fact he would never reveal to anyone but her. She’d even given him some of her spare blank badges, but their sort-of friendship had ended when he’d used those to make Potter Stinks badges.
Throughout fifth year they’d been enemies, particularly because he was on the Inquisitorial Squad. In sixth year, Hermione had noticed the strain he was under and tried to speak to him about it. Draco admitted to being stressed but didn’t say why, even when she visited him in the hospital wing to apologize on Harry’s behalf for using Sectumsempra on him.
When they’d returned for their seventh year, Draco had apologized that he couldn’t do more to help her when she and her friends had been brought to the Manor. He’d also explained about how he tried to stop Crabbe from hurting them, but hadn’t been able to. Hermione had accepted his apologies, not wanting to hold on to the hatred from the past, and they easily became close friends.
“How about a game?” Draco asked, breaking through her thoughts yet again. “We’ve an hour to go til midnight. Maybe Wizarding Trivia?”
Her face lit up at that, as he knew it would. They spent the hour quizzing each other and sipping hot chocolate, Christmas carols playing on Hermione’s wireless. Already it felt a lot more like Christmas than the previous year.
On the first day of Christmas…
When the clock struck twelve, they smiled somewhat awkwardly at each other. “Happy Christmas, Hermione,” Draco said. He was surprised when she leaned forward and hugged him.
“Happy Christmas, Draco.”
“Shall I give you your present now, or do you want to wait until morning?” he asked when they pulled back.
“We might as well do it now,” she said, Summoning the two presents that lay under the Christmas tree. “I hope you like it.” She handed him a soft, lumpy gift and kept the box for herself.
“Thanks.” He carefully set aside the small card pinned to the top of the gift and began unwrapping it, keeping an eye on Hermione the entire time. He felt inexplicably nervous; he hadn’t been sure what gift was appropriate to give, and he’d wanted to avoid the obvious choice of books. He had just removed most of the wrapping paper and caught a glimpse of some dark fabric when Hermione lifted the lid on her box. She stared at the four hand mirrors, a puzzled look on her face.
“Two-way mirrors,” Draco explained, hoping she liked them. “I thought you could give one to Potter and Weasley, and the other to your parents, after you reverse their memories.”
“Draco, these are wonderful!” She gently picked one up and inspected it. “Thank you!”
Pleased that his gift was well-received, Draco turned to the one he held. He pulled off the rest of the wrapper and found himself faced with a lump of dark grey wool. Unsure of what it was - perhaps it was a traditional Muggle gift? - he dug his fingers into it. “It’s very soft,” he observed, aware Hermione was watching him.
“I hope it fits,” she said anxiously.
Fits? Ah, it must be clothing. Draco lifted the wool up and shook it out slightly, angling it so he could best see it in the firelight. To his relief, he could make out the vague outline of a jumper. Hermione had obviously knitted it herself. It was probably the first homemade thing he’d ever received, and he found himself thinking, rather uncharitably, that he was glad he’d never gotten homemade stuff before if they looked this awful. Mentally berating himself, he tried to thank her sincerely.
She beamed back. “You’re welcome! I’m glad you like it.”
“I can’t even imagine how long it took you to make this. It’s amazing.”
“Do you think it’ll fit?”
“Looks like it.” Turning it around until he found what he assumed was the front of the jumper, he tugged it over his head. “It’s nice and warm.”
Hermione looked ridiculously, adorably proud of herself, and Draco couldn’t help but smile back. The fireplace crackled suddenly, causing both of them to jump.
She gasped, scrambling to kneel before the fireplace where Harry Potter’s head had suddenly appeared. “Harry!”
“Surprise!” Harry beamed. Ron’s head joined his a moment later. “Happy Christmas, Hermione!”
“I guess this is my cue to leave,” Draco said, vanishing the wrapping paper and cleaning their mugs with a quick scourgify. After a brief moment of hesitation, he nodded at Harry and Ron. “Happy Christmas, Potter, Weasley.”
“Happy Christmas, Malfoy,” they returned politely.
“Good night, Granger,” Draco called, heading to his bedroom. Once inside, he took off his jumper and examined it more closely. It wasn’t as horrible as he’d initially thought. The stitches were relatively tidy and evenly done. It was just somewhat - okay, a lot - misshapen, and he had a sneaking suspicion one sleeve was longer than the other. Still, it was a thoughtful gift. It was comfy enough to use when he was just lounging around in his room, or to sleep in since he always found the Slytherin dungeons just a little bit too chilly. Satisfied, he folded it and stowed it in his trunk before getting ready for bed.
Draco woke up delightfully late on Christmas morning. He knew Hermione was going to the Weasleys’ house and that the professors wouldn’t expect him for lunch, so he spent his time opening his presents. His parents had given him an expensive new cashmere jumper, among other things, and he immediately slipped it on. Picking up his own two-way mirror, he called his parents. They spoke for several hours, and Draco basked in the joys of being a wizard. Surely Muggles would never have anything like two-way mirrors.
Hermione knocked on his door some hours later. “Supper?” she called.
Draco closed the book he’d been reading and rolled off his bed, fumbling for his shoes. “It’s open,” he called. Hermione opened the door as he was trying to flatten his hair. “Hey. How was lunch?”
“It was wonderful. I’m so stuffed right now, but I know the professors would want us to be at supper.”
“I’m starving,” Draco remarked as they headed to the portrait hole. “My lunch consisted of some sweets that my parents sent me.”
“Your teeth are going to rot, you know,” Hermione said exasperatedly. She cast a sidelong glance at his new jumper. “Is that from your parents too?”
“Yeah. Mother was pleased to see it on me. I spoke to her earlier using the two-way mirror. Makes me feel almost sorry for Muggles, you know. They’ll never be able to do the same.”
She laughed outright at that. “Muggles can already do it. It’s called videoconferencing, and it’s fascinating.”
They continued to the Great Hall, Hermione relishing the chance to increase Draco’s knowledge of Muggles.
On the fourth day of Christmas...
First came Boxing Day, then Sunday, and then it was an official bank holiday, and as such, no studying could legally be done on any of those days. Draco wasn’t sure if he’d succeeded in convincing Hermione of that, but he, at least, would honor the holidays. He once again spent the morning of the bank holiday lazing in bed and only emerged from his room for lunch. Hermione glanced up at him from her spot near the fireplace, her hopeful look quickly melting into one of disappointment. It seemed to happen quite often these days, now that he thought about it.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
“Nothing,” she said, shaking her head.
Draco raised his eyebrows at her. “Really, what’s wrong?”
“Nothing. Would you like to go for lunch?”
“Yeah. Are you ready?” He allowed her to change the subject, knowing she’d bring it up again if it truly bothered her. And she did, later that day.
“When will you wear the jumper I gave you?”
Draco froze momentarily. She expected him to wear it in public? “I had it washed,” he lied smoothly. “I’ll wear it once it’s back. Sorry.”
The gloom that had surrounded her the whole day lifted. “Oh, that’s all right,” she smiled, relieved. “It’s probably best that you had it washed.”
“I told the elf not to wash my clothes today, though - it being a bank holiday and all,” he added hastily, trying to buy himself more time. “I suppose it’ll get washed tomorrow, since it’ll be the first working day since Christmas.”
Hermione beamed even brighter at Draco’s consideration for the house elves. He felt a tiny bit bad, but just a tiny bit; he was a Slytherin, after all. “I was afraid you didn’t like it,” she admitted, blushing slightly.
“Liar. You’re a Gryffindor, you’re not afraid of anything,” he teased, deftly avoiding her unspoken question. She rolled her eyes at him but let the subject drop.
Later that day, Draco called one of the house elves to his bedroom. “Wash this tomorrow,” he told the tiny elf, handing him the jumper. “Give it back to me on Wednesday evening, no sooner than that.” He briefly thought about asking the elf to deliberately shrink the jumper so he could tell Hermione it shrunk in the wash, but sadly, such a problem was easily remedied by magic. Still, he’d bought himself a couple more days, he could be happy with that.
On the seventh day of Christmas...
Draco groaned and rolled out of bed. He hated waking up early during the holidays, but he had a mission. Dressing quickly, he grabbed the jumper from Hermione and the note he’d written the night before.
Moving quickly and quietly through the common room, he left the note on top of a pile of Hermione’s books and hurried away. “Meeting Goyle and Pansy today, will be back this evening- Draco”. There, that would do.
It was too early to meet his friends, so he stopped by the Slytherin dungeons and grabbed his broom, practicing with the Snitch on the Quidditch pitch until late morning. He flew to Hogsmeade and was pleased to see the Three Broomsticks wasn’t too busy. He chose a table, nodding politely and somewhat awkwardly at Madam Rosmerta, and gazed out of the window while waiting for Pansy and Goyle. It was snowing again, and for some reason the white, rather picturesque view made him think of Hermione and long talks by the fire and hot chocolate.
He didn’t have long to wait as both Pansy and Goyle were relatively punctual. It was a comfort and a relief to be with his friends, the people who, outside of his parents, knew him best. They caught up over lunch, as Goyle hadn’t returned to Hogwarts and Pansy had gone home for the holidays. It felt just like old times, like the war had never happened and they had never grown up. Crabbe was gone, of course, but he’d started to drift from them long before his death.
Once they had finished their meal and were relaxing with their butterbeers, Draco brought out The Jumper. “What do you think?” he asked, placing the wadded up jumper on the table.
Pansy took it, giving him a small frown at his callous treatment of the garment. She shook it out and examined it closely, tilting her head this way and that. “Is it supposed to be a jumper?” she asked doubtfully.
“No!” Goyle scoffed. Draco stared hard at him, and he quickly backtracked. “I guess it looks like one. Maybe. A little.”
“Was it knit by a blind person?”
“No. Granger made it.” Draco glared defiantly at them, daring them to insult her further.
“Good to know there’s one thing she’s not good at,” Pansy muttered.
“She’s probably better at it than you are,” he said sharply. He let that settle in for a moment before continuing. “But I agree, it does look… not quite like a jumper should look.” Hideous was what he wanted to say, but he refrained. “Question is, what should I do about it? Granger actually expects me to wear it out in public. I told her I had it washed, but she expects me to wear it any day now. I’ll wear it just before seeing her tonight, but it’s a short term solution to a long term problem.”
The three Slytherins fell silent for a while, pondering the problem from different angles. “Give it to a house elf?” Goyle offered. “Tell her they need it more than you do.”
“She’s probably knit jumpers for all of them by now,” Draco rejected the idea.
“Pretend to save someone from drowning in the Great Lake and then claim your jumper was ruined beyond repair?”
Draco thought about it. “Nice thought, Pans, but I’d still have to wear the jumper out in public long enough to save someone from drowning,” he said, shaking his head.
“Could you just burn the bloody thing and tell her Peeves did it?” Goyle suggested.
“That’s not half-bad,” Draco admitted, turning it over in his mind. “I’ll keep that in mind.” He conjured a quill and parchment, jotting down the ideas. “Keep them coming, guys.”
Hours later, Draco returned to the common room, carrying The Jumper. He now had a list of ways he could avoid wearing it, the ideas getting more absurd as they switched from butterbeer to more alcoholic drinks. Hermione looked up as he entered the room, and he gave her a sad look.
“What’s wrong?” she asked immediately, just as he knew she would.
“The jumper you gave,” Draco replied mournfully, “I was wearing it when I went to meet my friends and Goyle spilled his wine on it.” He held it up as evidence. “Sorry ‘bout that.”
“Oh.” It seemed for a moment that she didn’t quite know how to react, but eventually stood up and walked over to him, her hand outstretched. He handed The Jumper to her.
“I hope the elves will be able to clean it,” Draco said as she inspected it.
“They should be able to,” Hermione said, handing the garment back to him. “It’s just a wine stain. Was it comfy, though?”
“It was very warm and snug.” Draco felt a tiny bit guilty lying to her, but glancing again at the misshapen jumper steeled his resolve. “I’m sorry Goyle ruined it, the clumsy oaf. But I’ll make sure the elves wash it well.”
“It’s alright, I’m sure it was an accident,” she replied, though she sounded a bit dejected.
“Look, I’ll go put this in the wash and then let’s make some drinks.” Draco was suddenly anxious to cheer her up, not wanting to be the cause of her sadness. “It’s New Year’s Eve, we should have some fun.”
“I suppose,” Hermione answered listlessly.
Draco desperately wracked his brain as he hurried off to his room to drop the jumper in his laundry pile. “Maybe you can teach me more about Muggles,” he said, the words spilling out of his mouth as he returned. Her look of disbelief mirrored what he felt inside, but he pressed on. “Tell me what it was like growing up as a Muggle. I’m curious.” The more he thought about it, the more he realized it was true. As his friendship with Hermione had deepened, his knowledge of the Muggle world had grown, as had his desire to learn more about her and her upbringing. If there was the added advantage of cheering her up, he wasn’t going to complain.
“It’s a bit hard to describe,” Hermione said slowly, eyeing him skeptically. “For one thing, it was completely normal to me! Except for my bouts of accidental magic, though I didn’t know what they were at the time.” Draco was pleased to see the return of her eagerness to spread knowledge, and patted himself on the back.
Two rounds of hot chocolate later, they had moved on to talking about Muggle currency and how it was easier to do mental arithmetic with it. They were side by side on the sofa, and Draco was surprised when the grandfather clock chimed. “It’s midnight!” he exclaimed. “Happy New Year!”
Hermione returned his greeting, laughing in delight. “Happy New Year, Draco! Gosh, we nearly missed it!” She raised her half-empty mug, and he clinked his against hers.
“Here’s to 1999, it can’t be worse than 1998!”
“Oh, shush. I’m sure you can do better than that! Here’s to a year without Voldemort, a year of peace, unity, friendship and new beginnings.” Hermione raised her mug again, but Draco shook his head.
“A toast so proper deserves a proper drink!” He Summoned a bottle of wine from his room. “Would you care to share?”
“You sound drunk already,” Hermione commented, “and you haven’t had a drop yet. I predict that if I don’t share, you’ll finish the whole bottle and end up completely sloshed. So I’d be doing you a favour by having a glass or two of wine.”
Draco waved his wand and opened the bottle with a flourish. “That’s a wonderful excuse. And for the record, I’m not drunk- yet. I’m just...happy. You’re right, it’s a new year, a new beginning, and we’re starting it in the best possible way.”
Hermione grinned at him, blushing slightly. “I’m happy too, and it is a great start. Two previous adversaries, now friends. Cheers!”
On the tenth day of Christmas...
“Hermione, I’m going to the owlery, do you have any letters you want me to send?” Draco yelled up the stairs leading to the girls’ dormitories.
“I’m finishing one now, I’ll just be two seconds,” she called back, hastily finishing her letter to Ginny. Once that was done, she grabbed the letters she’d previously penned to Harry and Ron and went to meet Draco, smiling at how perfectly timed his trip to the owlery was. Her grin broadened when she saw him wearing the jumper she’d knitted. “I’ll go with you,” she said as she put on her cloak. “I could do with the walk. Aren’t you going to wear your cloak?”
“No, this jumper is quite warm enough,” he replied, accepting her company with a smile. Together they left the common room. Hermione couldn’t keep herself from glancing at him from time to time. The jumper was a tad deformed, but it was a decent effort and overall she was proud of how it turned out. She was pleased that Draco was wearing it out and about; sometimes she thought he was avoiding wearing it, but then he’d prove her wrong. The colour suited him, as she knew it would, and the slightly rumpled look made him all the more adorable (though she’d never tell him that!). It was a shame that the other students would be arriving in the evening and they wouldn’t have the place to themselves anymore. Already the elves were moving Draco’s things back to the Slytherin dormitories.
They chatted amicably about e-mail and other Muggle means of communication as they walked. Draco’s curiosity about Muggles was both pleasing and surprising.
“It just seems a bit sad to me to take away the animal element of it,” Draco said as they reached the owlery. “It makes it seem a bit less personal.” He stroked his eagle owl as it perched on his arm.
Hermione watched them for a moment, thinking idly of what a striking pair they made. He seemed rather fidgety, and she wondered if he was slightly scared of the many birds. She’d been nervous the first time she’d gone to the owlery, and even now she was wary of their sharp beaks and talons. She turned to select a strong school owl to deliver her three letters to the Burrow. “That’s true. Muggles don’t know what they’re missing, of course, but there is something that’s just so… magical about sending letters by owl. They’re such clever creatures. But at the same time, it’s not right to make animals work.” As she tied her bundle to the owl’s leg, she could hear the fluttering wings of the many owls around her. “They should be out hunting, not flying everywhere delivering our lett – oof!”
Without warning, Draco suddenly pushed her aside and went barreling into the perches of the owls in front of her. Hermione covered her head from the mad flurry of birds that had all taken flight to avoid him. Many hooted disapprovingly at Draco as they found other places to perch. By the time the flurry had died down and the owls had all settled, Draco was a mess of feathers and bird droppings, old and new. He also had several scratches running across his face.
“What happened?” Hermione asked, helping him up.
“Did it get me?” he asked. His face was bright pink, but he looked triumphant. At her blank look, he elaborated. “An owl almost shat on you. I pushed you away. Are you all right?”
“Yes, I’m fine,” she said, hardly hearing him as she stared in dismay at his ruined jumper. “I’ve got a cloak! You didn’t need to shove me out of the way.”
“Sorry,” he muttered. “Just thought you wouldn’t appreciate getting bird shite on you, cloak or not.”
Hermione sighed. “You’re right,” she said apologetically. “And thank you. I just feel rather frustrated that your jumper keeps getting ruined. Perhaps I should have put an anti-stain or an Impervius charm on it,” she mused, looking ruefully at the fresh white stains. “I just wasn’t sure how it would interact with the other ones.”
“What other ones?”
“There’s a temperature-regulating charm, which is why it’s so cozy and you feel you don’t need a cloak. There are a few protective spells as well, since I know you’re worried about some of the other students hexing or jinxing you when your back is turned. It’s flame-resistant too.”
Draco was speechless. “You did all of that for me?”
Hermione shrugged. “That was the fun part. I did want to add a stain-protectant charm but I didn’t want to compromise any of the other charms which I thought were more important. But this jumper seems jinxed already, what with all it’s been through since I gave it to you!”
“Just bad luck, I guess. Or, well, not really luck, since this was my fault, I suppose,” Draco said, looking down at himself and picking out a few feathers. “I think I need to go and get cleaned up.”
“You definitely need a shower,” she agreed. “Let me know when you’re done and I’ll heal those scratches.”
On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…
Draco studied his reflection and adjusted his sleeves, trying to make them look more even. He was wearing The Jumper again and, for the first time, he felt proud. He’d thought long and hard about it the night before and had come to several realizations. For the first time, he’d really considered how much time Hermione had spent in knitting it. Amidst her schoolwork, her search for her parents, and her potion-brewing, she’d found time to make it for him. He also remembered their conversations about finances; Hermione had spent all of her savings while on the run with Harry and Ron, and most of the money she received with her Order of Merlin went towards finding her parents. Despite being nearly broke, she still gave him an incredibly thoughtful gift. The spells she’d placed on it made it even more special. And really, how many people would kill to have a jumper knitted by the Hermione Granger?
Draco’s biggest epiphany was how incredibly ungrateful he’d been, coming up with various ways to avoid wearing it. The best way to remedy that was to show her he appreciated it by actually wearing it in front of the school. Although he initially felt self-conscious, he found that most people didn’t care what he was wearing. A few Slytherins did stare at him throughout breakfast, but he ignored them. The only look that mattered was Hermione’s from across the hall.
Pansy sat down next to him, and Draco carefully spread his table napkin over his jumper like a bib. He didn’t want to risk her spilling something on it accidentally-on-purpose.
Pansy noticed. “Why the change of heart?” she asked slyly. “Finally come to realize how much she means to you?”
Draco spluttered. “We’re friends, Pansy.”
“I didn’t insinuate anything else,” she replied. “Though, I insist that I maintain the title of your best friend. And as your best friend, I suppose I ought to remind you that this is the last day of Christmas, and tomorrow the elves will take the mistletoe down. There’s one just off to the side of the Entrance Hall.”
Draco raised his eyebrows. “And how do you know that?”
Naturally, Pansy refused to divulge her secrets. Draco shrugged and glanced back at Hermione, meeting her gaze. He nodded in the direction of the door, and she stood up to meet him there.
Outside the Great Hall, Draco couldn’t help but return Hermione’s big smile. “You wore it,” she said softly, almost disbelievingly. “I thought now that the rest of the school was back, it’d be hidden at the bottom of your trunk.”
“Why would you think that?”
Hermione laughed. “I’m not deluded, Draco. I know it looks...well, it’s not fantastic. Rather ugly in fact, and for that I’m sorry. But,” she continued, blushing, “you certainly improve it.”
Draco shook his head at her. “I’m sorry that it took me so long to appreciate it. The fact that it doesn’t look quite like a normal jumper just adds character to it. Like the spells you put in, I don’t think anyone’s ever given me such a thoughtful gift.” He was surprised when Hermione stepped forward and embraced him suddenly.
“Merry Christmas, Draco,” she whispered into his ear.
He shivered delightfully and held her a little bit tighter. “Merry Christmas, Hermione.”
And it was.