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A Small Present

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In the library of Malfoy Manor, Hermione settles down into the heavy pile of blankets and pillows on the antique Chesterfield sofa, its faded grey leather nearly obscured by her snug nest. The massive fireplace in front of her is well-charmed to give heat and light without a single spark to threaten the thousands of books and manuscripts collected in nearly a millennium. The flames crackle and dance, throwing the scents of apple and yew into the air.

Hermione wriggles her arms out of her cozy burrow and cradles a thick bowl in both hands. In the middle of winter, a cup or mug with a handle only prevents her from getting every millimeter of her palms and fingers against the warmed ceramic. She lets the heat sink into her muscles, holding the bowl close to her chin. The warm, smoky-sweet aroma of cinnamon mixes with a blend of spices. She smells cardamom, ginger, cloves, and orange peel, all of it swirling together in a heavy, mulled cider. Hermione gives a quick, half-guilty glance around the library, then sticks out her tongue and licks the dusting of sugar that coats the rim of the bowl.

"I saw that."

Hermione lowers the bowl to look up at Draco. His hair is mussed from the wind; his pale skin is reddened along his cheekbones and the tip of his nose. He grins at her and she wrinkles her nose at him. "You saw nothing," she says.

He laughs as he unwinds his scarf. "Oh, that's how we're going to play it," he says. He hangs his scarf by the fireplace and tugs off his boots to rest on the hearth. Shaking snow out of his hair, he turns his back to the fire. "We're going to pretend that I didn't just catch you doing something that has previously resulted in both me and my son getting a scolding?"

"Absolutely," Hermione says with a prim toss of her hair. "I would never do such a thing."

Draco shakes his head, a small grin curling the corners of his mouth. "No, of course not. Not you. Can't imagine what I was thinking." He warms his hands over the flames for a moment, then shuffles to the sofa. He prods around in the nest of blankets to find Hermione's feet.

She braces for a tickle, but he only lifts her legs enough to slither beneath them, tucking the blankets into place around them both. "And don't think I didn't see that," he says, one hand resting on her knee. "As if I could even find your feet through all these layers. I'd be willing to bet that you have six pairs of socks on."

"Just one," Hermione says. "But they are extra-thick and I charmed them warmer."

Draco gives a small laugh. "Cold little lion," he says. "You'll just have to bundle up extra warm tomorrow so you can spend some time outside with Scorpius. He wants to have a snowball fight. An invisible one, might I add, though I don't know how we'll do that without stealing Potter's cloak for the day. But Scorpius is very keen on the idea. Seems someone told him about that little incident back when we were kids."

Hermione sips her cider, fighting not to grin. She loses quickly. Nudging Draco in the side with her toes, she waggles her brows and grins at him. "Count yourself lucky that I didn't mention how someone took off running. Glossed over that particular portion of it all. You're welcome."

"Mmm." Draco plucks the bowl out of her hands and licks away the remainder of the sugar before taking a long drink. "I went through the post this morning," he says as he hands the bowl back to her. "Another half-dozen invitations to parties and dinners. Are you positive that you don't want to spend more time with your friends this Christmas? One lunch with Potter and a shopping trip with Lovegood. That doesn't seem like enough."

Hermione shakes her head. "No, that's.... Well, no. It wasn't enough. But I got a present earlier that changed everything."

"Oh? And what was that?" Draco turns to her, both brows raised in curiosity.

Smiling, Hermione reaches to a table at her elbow and drags a couple of parchments into her lap. She holds one up. "Dear Hermione," she reads. "You're not my mummy, but you make Dad happy and you're nice to the elves and Nani says you're not so bad after all, so you're pretty good all over." She takes the other parchment, unfolds it, and hands it to Draco. "And my present."

Draco stares down at the drawing he holds. A tall stick figure in a green cloak and hat stands with a shorter figure with a long red scarf and a scribbled mass of spirals for hair. Between them is a small blond boy, thin arms and three-fingered hands reaching up to cling to the adults. Scorpius' careful block printing is at the bottom. "My family," Draco reads aloud.

He looks up at Hermione. She's grinning, her eyes bright. Draco leans over and rests his head against hers. "Family," he repeats.

"Yes," Hermione says, her voice wavering just a touch. "So I don't need to go to parties or dinners or spend times with friends." She leans against Draco and gives a happy little sigh, the cinnamon-sugar aroma of her cider surrounding them both. "Best Christmas ever, Draco. I have everything I wanted right here. My family."