Draco could not concentrate.
Snow day! Snow day! Snow day! yelled his inner child.
Snow day! Snow day! Snow day! the fire cackled merrily.
"Be quiet!" He ordered, "I must work."
He analysed the market in silence for several minutes before a cacophony of sound erupted in the garden.
“Snow day! Snow day! Snow day!” his adorable children yelled.
Was that Hermione’s voice drowning out everyone else?
“Snow day!” Sev yelled with glee.
Sev? Second year Ravenclaw Sev? Who thought games were for babies now that he was a sober and grown up man of twelve?
Draco’s study overlooked the garden.
It was impossible for him not to go to the window.
Jane burbled up at him, cosy in one of his wife’s colourful knitted caps. “Sow day! Dada!”
Hermione wrinkled her bright red nose at him and beckoned him outside.
Snow day! Snow day! Snow day! the fire egged him on.
Not that he needed to be egged. He threw on a heavy fur-lined cloak and practically ran out the door.
“Daddy!” squealed Zuzu, holding out her arms for a hug. Her next words were nearly muffled by the voluminous folds of his cloak. “Make me a snow man!”
Hermione raised an eyebrow at her incorrigible daughter as Zuzu emerged from a fall of deep green velvet.
“Please!” Zuzu added eagerly.
“Pwease!” chorused Jane, with an adorable pout.
Draco picked Jane up, kissing her on the nose. “Since you asked so nicely, mini Moh.” He set her down, giving a gentle, affectionate tug to an errant curl.
“All right, young men,” Draco called out, catching his sons’ attention. “Your sisters have requested a snow man. Shall we indulge our young ladies?”
Sal and Sev ran over, peals of laughter announcing their arrival.
“Do it again!” implored Sal, still chuckling.
Draco merely raised an imperious eyebrow at him and heard his wife snort behind a mitten-clad hand.
Jane clapped in delight. “Gwandpa!”
“Clever boots,” said Hermione, cuddling her close. “Let’s find a face and clothes for the snowman, shall we?”
Zuzu tripped along behind them, abandoning the men to the cold and their cheerful task. “Me too!”
“Hot chocolate would be smashing,” called Draco hopefully.
“And Mipsy’s peppermint biscuits would be too,” added the ever-hungry Sev. He had a bottomless stomach, like his Uncle Ron. Though he did manage to chew with his mouth shut. Most of the time.
“Yes, please!” chorused Sal.
They saw Hermione nod her consent as she and the girls ducked through the kitchen door.
Draco and the boys shaped the pile of wet snow into a body in a leisurely fashion, enjoying each other’s company with laughter and a small snowball battle, soaking their mittens through in anticipation of hot cocoa and delicious biscuits.
Ages went by, yet no time at all passed before the ladies appeared again, with a smiling Mipsy in tow.
She magicked a heavy rug over the snow for everyone to sit on and laid out a magnificent bean feast in the middle of it; holding court was a luscious red and green frosted seven-layer cake.
“Mipsy, you spoil us,” Draco said approvingly.
The little elf beamed at her master before popping out of sight.
“I can never get her to do things in a simple manner,” Hermione muttered, leaning into her husband’s chest. “And you’re terrible, encouraging her like that.” She tweaked his nipple.
“Ow!” he shouted, drawing his children’s attention. “I’ll get you for that later,” he whispered.
Hermione grinned, giving him a slow wink. “Promise?” She turned to face their ravenous little beasts. “Let’s eat.”
“Can we dress the snowman first?” asked Zuzu.
Sev groaned. “Why?” he whined in protest.
Zuzu aimed pleading eyes at her eldest brother. “Because then the snowman can eat too.”
Sev rolled his eyes, but he was not immune to his sister’s sweet nature. “Oh, all right.”
❄ ❄ ❄ ❄ ☃ ❄ ❄ ❄ ❄
The snowman beamed at the noisy, jolly little family through shiny black button eyes. He sported a jaunty carrot nose that almost, but not quite wriggled in delight. Every joke shared made his rope smile wider; every cherished memory filled his icy heart with spirit of the season.
“I found the bean,” Zuzu announced, her small mouth full of cake.
Draco gave her a courtly bow. “My queen.”
“Huzzah!” everyone cheered as Zuzu gave a pretty curtsey.
“Stowey!” Jane ordered.
It was price of being queen, to fulfil her subjects’ demands.
Zuzu frowned in thought, and her gaze settled on the merry snowman.
“Teacher told us a story about a snowman last week,” she began shyly, looking at her family.
They all smiled back at her; Sev and Sal added nods. They both had Miss Limone in primary school, and knew the story well.
“The snowman is so new he doesn’t know what the sun or moon are,” Zuzu started. “An old dog chained in the yard tells him what they are.” Her eyes teared up a little. “The people in the story are so mean, chaining up that old dog in the snow! All it wants to do is lie under the warm stove.”
“Maybe they let it in at night,” Hermione said, trying to soothe her tender-hearted daughter.
Little waves of maternal magic wrapped around Zuzu, and eddied over the snowman’s feet.
“It was still mean,” said Zuzu, warmed by her mother’s concern. She continued with dry eyes, “Then the weather gets even colder and the wind blows, leaving frost everywhere. All the trees in the snowman’s garden are covered in white and they sparkle like diamonds.”
Jane clapped her hands exuberantly. “Diawonds!”
She loved glittery things most of all, like a little magpie. Narcissa had to be especially careful around her youngest granddaughter.
“A couple walks in the garden. When they leave, the snowman asks who they are,” Zuzu said, pausing to nibble on a peppermint biscuit before Sev ate them all. “The dog tells him they were nice to him and they will marry one day, living together and sharing the same bone.”
Sev sniggered a little and snatched the last peppermint biscuit. Sal sniggered too, without knowing why.
Zuzu’s brow furrowed, and Draco quieted her brothers with a pointed look. They weren’t laughing at her, but as tender as she was, she might take it that way.
“The dog tells him they are servants in the House, and that the dog lived there too, for a while. He slept under the stove and was petted and fed treats. But they kicked him out when he bit the Master’s son.”
Again, Zuzu’s eyes filled with tears. “The dog shouldn’t have bit the boy, but he was just defending his bone.”
Sev stopped a snigger just in time. “Zuzu, didn’t the dog tell the snowman about the stove?”
“Yes,” said Zuzu, beaming at her brother. “He tells the snowman all about the stove and shows the snowman that he can see the stove through the window. The snowman looks at the stove for a long time, and he falls in love with it.”
“The snowman falls in love with the stove?” asked Draco, looking at Hermione. She shared a cream tart with Jane, feeding her bites and smiling at the toddler’s reaction to the lemon sugar filling.
Then she caught Draco staring, and gave him a secret smile that warmed him straight through.
The snowman felt a tingle shiver along his bare branch arms.
“Yes, Daddy. And he doesn’t listen when the dog tells him the stove will melt him. He’s in love.” Zuzu said, taking a sip of cocoa.
“Sometimes, snowmen can’t help themselves,” Draco murmured mostly to himself, still staring at his wife. “They have to be near the stove, even if they melt completely away.”
“How did you know, Daddy?” Zuzu said, amazed. “That’s what happens! The snowman melts and the dog sees that he had a coal shovel holding him up, tied to a stick. The dog thinks the snowman loved the stove because part of him belonged with the stove.”
“What a clever snowman,” said Hermione. “To know where he belongs, even if he doesn’t know why.”
Draco looked at his family, sitting on the rug, filled with love and sweets. He knew why, down to his marrow. He saw Jane shiver and how red the boys’ noses were. “Time to go inside. Mipsy!”
The elf came and cleared the feast with a snap of her fingers. The Malfoy family trooped inside, trailing joyful laughter and sparks of magic, like the jingling of sleigh bells, behind them.
The snowman woke, as if from a nap, determined to find his stove.