Title: Music of the Heart
Word Count: 4,379
Prompt: Christmas Carols
Warnings: Naughty language, innuendo, UST
Summary: Sequel to last year's entry, Amistlemour: http://community.livejournal.com/dramione_advent/9261.html It's been almost a year to the day that Draco bought Twiggy, and he and Hermione had started on their happily ever after. But real life gets in the way, so Draco creates another Amistlemour... with a little help from Bing Crosby.
A/N: Huge thanks to ldymusyc for helping me hash this out over the best biscuits and gravy we've ever had! Also, to ssddgr and uniquepov for doing superb beta work - you gals rock!
Draco stared absentmindedly at the ring he’d been fiddling with, the sapphires and diamonds twinkling at him, mocking him. Their brilliantly shining facets very bluntly said, “You screwed up.” He snorted and finally placed the expensive piece back in the black jewellery box he’d taken it from and put the box underneath the small Christmas tree in the corner.
It had been almost a year to the day since he’d first seen Hermione Granger in his and his father’s boardroom, and her fierce determination to survive yet another injustice had sent his esteem skyrocketing. He’d briefly glimpsed her vulnerability that day, that look that said, ‘Why does this always happen to me?’ and he’d known he had it within him to change that look to something wonderful.
So why was he sitting in an empty house, mopping tears from his morose face, and wondering when it had all gone arse over elbow, instead of asking the woman he loved with all of his pathetic being to have mercy on him and be pathetic with him for the rest of their lives? Was it because Lucius had tried with all his might to make things so difficult for her in his department that she’d left for another, lower-paying job just to escape Draco’s tyrannical father? Or was it his own less-than-civil tolerance of her friends, who tended to hang around their house... and hang on her? Could it be that he’d put off popping the question and she got tired of waiting?
Laying his head on the back of the sofa, Draco decided it could be any of those things or none of them. All he knew was that Hermione had been gone for about two weeks, and his heart was utterly shattered. Not broken; that could be fixed. Not achy; that would mend. No, he was completely and decidedly shattered—as in only Hermione could glue him back together.
Flicking his wand, he turned on the stereo, hoping to hear something a little cheery to pull him from his depressed mood. What he got was sappy Christmas music by Tony Bennett.
All I want for Christmas is you
You're the gift that's made my dreams all come true
All I need for Christmas is here
Finding every sweet surprise wrapped up in your eyes
Waiting there for me underneath the tree
Draco groaned loudly. Leave it to the Wireless to rip out his heart and hand it to him on a tarnished platter. The pain was further compounded by a group of voices that happened to be standing outside, belting out Christmas bloody cheer.
Chestnuts roasting on an open fire
Jack Frost nipping at your nose
Yuletide carols being sung by a choir
And folks dressed up like Eskimos
A turkey and some mistletoe
Can help to make the season bright
Tiny tots with their eyes all aglow
Will find it hard to sleep tonight
Covering his ears with two throw-pillows, Draco closed his eyes and growled in frustration. Damned mistletoe was how this all started! His eyes suddenly popped open.
How it all started...
Jumping up from the sofa, he dragged on his boots, slung a heavy coat on his thin frame, and ran out the door and down the street topless, heading for the one place he knew would have his answer.
When Draco burst into Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, Fred and George both did a double-take, one smirking while the other just shook his head. Malfoy Junior was dishevelled, like he hadn’t taken a bath in a week, had a face full of scraggly blond whiskers, and was wearing nothing but a pair of damp trousers, some fleece-lined boots, and a navy peacoat that wasn’t buttoned, showing everyone in the store his sculpted abs. His hair was also sticking straight out in several directions, as if he’d run his fingers through it in frustration—multiple times.
“To what do we owe this unexpected pleasure... boss ?” George dared to ask.
“I need another one!” Draco demanded frantically, like an addict pleading for his next fix. “I’ve got to make it right!”
The twins looked at each other in confusion. “Another what?” Fred asked, reaching over to do up some of the buttons on Draco’s coat.
“That talking mistletoe thing... you know, it sang, found people’s true love,” the blond said in a slightly mad tone. “I tried out the prototype last year, remember?”
“Amistlemour?” George offered slyly. “We only have one left and—”
“I’ll take it!”
“I don’t care! I’ll buy you another store, if you give me that one!”
Not willing to pass up such a great, if stupidly offered, incentive, Fred and George nodded and disappeared into the storeroom.
“What’re you looking at?” Draco snarled and glared at a young boy who had stopped to watch the entire exchange. The lad looked startled and ran off.
Fred returned shortly, holding a box covered in garish holiday wrapping paper. “Last one, just for you.” He didn’t even have to hand it to Draco; the blond wizard grabbed the parcel and fled out into the snow, Disapparating when he reached the street corner.
“Should we have told him that Snape had already imbued a bit of his personality on that mistletoe?” George mused as they watched the snowfall increase.
“What? And ruin our Christmas? I think not.” Fred glanced at the note that had been attached to the Amistlemour that read must croon like Bing Crosby, carefully folded it and tucked it away for safe keeping.
Hermione stared at her haggard appearance in the shop window, grimacing at what she beheld. It was not pretty.
Normally sleek curls lay haphazardly atop her head, dark circles shadowed her red-rimmed eyes, and her usual peachy glow had faded to a dull, ruddy colour that tinged her cheeks, making her look ill. She’d worked herself into a state, and now the effects were exacting their revenge.
She was disgustingly miserable. Not irritated; that would’ve gone away eventually. Not upset; she could always blame that on her time of the month. No, she was downright, unequivocally miserable.
She missed Draco.
Missed his arms around her when they slept in their oversized bed. Missed the way he kept her warm throughout the entire night regardless of how cold the weather became. Missed popping into his office for an impromptu snog, or something equally decadent. Of course, she had to go and let her insufferable pride get in the way.
“Draco, this just isn’t going to work and you know it!”
Pinching the bridge of his nose in frustration, Draco gritted his teeth to keep his temper in check. “Hermione, you were supposed to have those results to Father yesterday.”
She leaned over the desk, equally frustrated. “I did! I wouldn’t be surprised if they were plastered to the backside of his secretary, with as much as he—”
“Don’t!” he growled. Everyone knew Lucius slept with his secretary, but that was beside the point.
“Don’t what? Tell the truth?” She picked up a paperweight and heaved it across the room. “I can’t do this anymore, Draco! I can’t keep working my fingers to the bone only to have my work shunted to the side by your father or, even worse, have it mysteriously disappear, only to show up months later when the data is obsolete because he ‘forgot’ where he mislaid it.” Tears welled in her eyes and she bit her lip. “I’ve been offered a position with Hagerty, Miller, and Buttermore.”
His eyes widened. “No!”
She didn’t answer him. Instead, she laid a piece of parchment on his desk. “I already did.” Tucking a wayward strand behind her ear, she dropped her head. “I’ll get my things this afternoon,” she said softly and left.
And she did get her things—from the office and their house. She just couldn’t come home to him every night, after working with the competition, and expect everything to turn out all right.
Now, as she stared into the shop featuring fine leather goods, she wondered if she couldn’t have tried a little harder to make things work.
“You know, if you got that riding crop right there, it would be perfect for spanking your luscious arse,” said a familiar voice off to her left.
“Draco, I—” Her voice stopped the moment she turned around to scold her lover. “Oh. My. God,” she whispered.
Floating a couple inches above her head was none other than Twiggy, the Amistlemour. “Allo, ma chérie! I have missed you!”
A reluctant smile spread across her face. “Did Draco put you up to this?”
The white waxy berry eyes looked shifty. “Could be. Maybe. It’s a possibility.” There was a long pause. “Definitely.”
Shaking her head, she leaned up and gave him a kiss. “It’s good to see you again.”
“You know, if your right leg was Christmas, and your left leg was Easter, you could let him spend some time between the holidays,” Twiggy said with a leer.
Hermione’s face immediately flamed red. “Good lord! What in the world did he imbue you with this time?”
“Buh buh boo,” Twiggy sang in a seductive baritone, “I’m into you...”
“Oh no, not that again!” Ron groused as he approached Hermione on the right, staring at the hovering sprig of eternal grief. “I thought Fred and George sold the last one yesterday?”
“Is that a beard, Gingerbread, or are you eating a muskrat?”
Hermione quickly placed a hand on Ron’s chest to keep him from rushing her new companion. “Don’t you dare,” she growled.
“Prat treats you worse than a house-elf, and you still let him do this?” Ron shook his head. “You two deserve each other.”
“That’s right, Connect-the-dots; we do deserve each other.”
“What’s this?” Harry had finally joined Ron after leaving the Quidditch shop. He glanced between his best friends and the mutinously glaring mistletoe.
“Four-eyes to the rescue!”
Harry just shook his head and grabbed Ron’s arm. “Come on, mate. We’ll be late for Christmas Eve dinner.”
Even after the boys had Disapparated, Hermione still didn’t move from the shop window. “Are you going to cause trouble like you did before?” she asked before finally starting to walk down the street.
“That man is a mental midget with the IQ of a fence post, woman... he had it coming.”
“Be nice.” She stopped in front of Holistic Herbs, contemplating possible gifts for her friends. “If you’re not, I’ll take you in here and plant you in one of Luna’s special pots.”
“She’s differently clued, that’s for sure.”
“Twiggy...” The warning was unmistakable in her tone.
“Fine. I’ll sing, then.” He cleared his leafy throat. “Mele Kalikimaka is the thing to say on a bright Hawai`i’ an Christmas Day. That's the island greeting that we send to you from the land where palm trees sway. Here we know that Christmas will be green and bright. The sun to shine by day and all the stars at night. Mele Kalikimaka is Hawai`i's way to say Merry Christmas to you.”
She stared at him while holding the door to the shop wide open. The voice had been melodious, sultry and crooning. Nothing like Malfoy’s. “Draco can’t sing.”
“Too bad,” Twiggy said with a shrug. He preceded her into Luna’s shop and came to an instant halt. “Beaver boy!” he cried.
Neville Longbottom, who was bent over a flat of sage, froze at Twiggy’s greeting. “H-hello, Hermione,” he said hesitantly, darting a nervous gaze to her ‘friend’.
“What? No love for me?” Twiggy pouted, his leaf lips looking rather obscene.
“Erm, hello... there.” There was a slight sheen of sweat on Neville’s brow. He slowly backed down the aisle and fled to another part of the shop.
“I wonder if that man makes love like a footballer: dribbling before he shoots,” Twiggy observed, hovering just out of Hermione’s reach.
“I’m sure I can transfigure some scissors. Care to try my patience?”
Twiggy covered his mouth and shook, a lone leaf coming loose to float to the floor. “Nuh huh.”
“Thought so.” She ran her fingers over some of the labels on the shelves of unique items for sale. “I don’t know if I’ll see him tomorrow,” she mused, sadness suffusing her words.
The crooning started again. “I'll be home for Christmas. You can plan on me. Please have snow and mistletoe.” At this point, Twiggy waggled his green brows. “And presents on the tree.” He floated down to touch Hermione’s tear-stained cheek. “Christmas Eve will find me, where the love-light gleams. I'll be home for Christmas. If only in my dreams.”
She smiled tremulously and sniffed. “Are you sure you’re Draco in there?” While she loved her boyfriend, he’d never shown this much romantic behaviour, though he had tried to serenade her—off-key and very badly—once, at the beginning of their relationship, before she’d quickly put a stop to it.
“Yes... and no,” Twiggy said evasively. He turned his attention to a plain girl that had been looking through the fresh citrus fruit. “Be right back, love.”
Floating to the woman’s right side, he purred in her ear, “There’s a bloke in the curmudgeon daisies who would really like to make your lemon pucker.”
The dark blonde batted Twiggy away. “You’re disgusting!” She glanced surreptitiously around the corner to see Neville sorting through the daisies. “Longbottom? Are you serious?”
“Unfortunately,” the greenery muttered. “Look, I floated over here to ask you to talk to the bloke, but now I'm kind of concerned. I mean, you two could hit it off really well, end up going for a few drinks. The next thing you know, you're giving him your Floo address, because he’s too shy to ask for it. Eventually, he’ll get up the nerve to call on you, maybe take you out to dinner. He relaxes, you relax, and you go out a few more times, get to know each other's friends, spend a lot of time together.”
Twiggy refused to let her leave until he explained everything. “Finally, you have got past this sexual tension and really develop this intense sex life that is truly incredible! Then, you decide the relationship is solid and stable, so you move in together for a while. A few months later, you get married. He gets a promotion, you get a promotion and you buy a bigger house. You really want kids, but he really wants freedom, but you have a kid anyway, only to find that he is resentful. The sparks start to fade and, to rekindle them, you have two more lovely kids, but now he works too much in order to keep up with the bills, has no time for you. You're stressed and stop taking really good care of yourself, so to get past your slow sex life and his declining self-confidence, he turns to an outside affair for sexual gratification. You find out—because he’s careless and a lousy liar—you throw him out—justifiably so—and you both have to explain to the kids why Mummy and Daddy are splitting up.” He looked at her in a disgusted manner. “That's just too sad. Think about the children, for God's sake! If you talk to Bassett-face and hit it off, just keep it sexual, because we both know where it's going to go.”
“Hannah, is he bothering you?” Hermione asked, having made her way over to where the stunned woman stood, still clutching her basket.
“I-I’m good, Granger.” Hannah Abbott glanced at Neville once more and smiled, as if mulling something over. “I’m more than good.” She nodded to Twiggy and cautiously approached her former classmate, and soon become lost in animated conversation.
“What did you say to her?” Hermione asked warily.
“Told her in a roundabout way that Longarse needed to get shagged.”
“Twiggy! You didn’t!”
“Okay, I didn’t.”
“You’re beyond incorrigible, you know?”
“Of course. It’s why you love me.”
She gave him a soft smile before heading towards the door. “Yes, I love Draco.”
Twiggy made a discreet cough. “What about me?”
“Sing some more carols and I might like you.”
“Tough crowd.” Twiggy sung a few scales as if warming up his vocal cords. “The holly green, the ivy green. The prettiest picture you've ever seen is Christmas in Killarney. With all of the folks at home. It's nice, you know, to kiss your beau while cuddling under the mistletoe—”
“Don’t you sing anything that doesn’t have the word ‘mistletoe’ in it?” she interrupted as they stepped out into the blowing snow.
He glared at her. “Grandma got run over by a reindeer, walking home from our house Christmas Eve...”
“Never mind,” she said with a chuckle. She shivered when a particularly bitter gust of wind whipped her hair around.
But Twiggy hadn’t heard what she’d said. He was blatantly staring at her chest. “Is it that cold out, or are you just smuggling tic-tac's?”
Her jaw dropped and she quickly tugged her coat over her breasts. “You may be Draco in spirit, but you will not talk about my cleavage!”
“I still say you have the perfect tits, love.”
She rolled her eyes and stormed off. Well... as gracefully as she could, in a foot of snow.
“What did she say?” Draco asked frantically.
Twiggy eyed him dubiously. “She definitely still thinks you’re the cat’s meow, but it’s going to take some serious grovelling.”
Draco frowned. “How am I supposed to grovel if she’s not here?”
“Ever thought of showing up to her flat?”
“She has a flat?”
Twiggy rolled his eyes and floated towards the mantel to lazily peruse the wizarding pictures of Draco and Hermione laughing and being happy together. He pointed to an exceptionally joyous one. “Why aren’t you two like this anymore?”
Sidling next to the enchanted twig, Draco caressed Hermione’s face in the photograph. “I don’t know what happened. I guess we got so busy with our lives that we forgot to actually live.”
“If you’re serious about wanting her back, I’ll help you. But if you’re just using me to rekindle something that isn’t there on your part, I will make your life a complete hell.”
“You can’t do—”
Draco grabbed Twiggy and brought him to eye level. “I created you, gave you my feelings for her, what I want from her. You tell me what I’m thinking.”
“You love her; that much is certain. But you’re being a selfish sod about it. Eat some crow, roger her senseless, and call it a day, for Merlin’s sake!”
Nodding, Draco let go of Twiggy and ran to the bathroom, slamming the door shut after him.
Running water could be heard from outside, followed by the occasionally yelp of pain, most likely from the scalding temperature. The leafy branch just shook its head, contemplating the irony of Draco threatening a spelled piece of mistletoe that was imbued with his own personality.
Sitting cross-legged on the threadbare sofa, Hermione clutched an overstuffed pillow and gazed into the fire in the hearth. While she was glad that Twiggy had left her in Diagon Alley, she also missed him... missed Draco. She buried her face in the soft material of the pillow and sobbed for all that she had lost.
It was nearing midnight when she noticed that her portable radio had turned on and a bluesy voice sung filtered into the chilled air of her rented flat.
I'll have a blue Christmas without you
I'll be so blue just thinkin' about you
Decorations of red on a green Christmas tree
Won't be the same dear if you're not here with me
And when the blue snowflakes start fallin'
That's when the blue memories start callin'
You'll be doin' alright with your Christmas of white
And I'll have a blue, blue Christmas.
Her sobs turned into hiccupping wails, so she didn’t hear the pounding on her door. Only when Twiggy floated in her vision, did she come to a sniffling stop.
“Why are you here?”
“He’s standing outside, wondering what your children will look like.”
This brought a fresh wave of tears. “Draco would never have children with me!”
“Merlin’s saggy arse,” Twiggy sighed. “This has gotten way out of hand.” He gently tapped her on her bright red nose. “Open the door, love.”
Acting as if on autopilot, she shuffled off the sofa, made her way to the door, and unhooked the piddly chain-lock. She didn’t even get a chance to open the door before it was shoved wide to reveal a haunted-looking Draco, his thin face even gaunter than it had been, the dark circles under his eyes mirroring her own.
“Hermione,” he whispered.
She gave him a tremulous smile and stepped back to allow him to enter. He did, but stopped in front of her, raising his hand to wipe away the stray tears that graced her cheeks.
“I’ve missed you so much.” He laid his forehead against hers, breathing in the scent of her hair and skin. He leaned closer, about to kiss her, but an inconspicuous cough made him pause.
“If you do that, I disappear,” Twiggy reminded them. “You want I should go?”
Hermione sighed. “Draco, what are you doing here?”
He gripped her upper arms desperately. “I want you to come home.”
Draco frowned. “What do you mean why?”
“Good God, how did these two make it out of the gate?”
“You do realise that it’s like you’re telling yourself to shut up, right?” Hermione pointed out with a wobbly grin.
“Never mind that.” He cupped her face, wanting so badly to kiss her. “You have to know I love you.”
Draco had planned for this... somewhat. With a glance at Twiggy, he nodded, pulled Hermione to the middle of the room, and wrapped her in his embrace. “Dance with me.”
“O-okay,” she said, slightly confused. She laid her head on his chest and revelled in the strong beat of his heart beneath her ear.
A soft hum originated from Twiggy—a low, melancholy tune—and he began to sing.
The lake is frozen over
The trees are white with snow
And all around
Reminders of you
Are everywhere I go
The couple swayed in the dimly-lit room, the flickering of the candles casting shadows on them.
It's late and morning's in no hurry
But sleep won't set me free
I lie awake and try to recall
How your body felt beside me
When silence gets too hard to handle
And the night too long
Draco ghosted his lips across her temple and forehead, nuzzling her hair. Hermione clutched at his shoulders and buried her face in the crux of his neck. She was listening very closely to the words Twiggy was singing so softly, knowing these were Draco’s thoughts and feelings.
And this is how I see you
In the snow on Christmas morning
Love and happiness surround you
As you throw your arms up to the sky
I keep this moment by and by
Oh I miss you now, my love
Merry Christmas, merry Christmas,
Merry Christmas, my love
She instantly remembered the first time they had danced, how he had twirled her in the snow on Valentine’s Day, how they had laughed until they were both hoarse. She was filled with such love and devotion, she didn’t know where he began and she ended.
A sense of joy fills the air
And I daydream and I stare
Up at the tree and I see
Your star up there
They had purchased their ‘first Christmas together’ ornament not too long ago, before she’d left. It waited on the mantel, because Draco refused to hang it without her. He pulled her closer, cradled her head and stroked her lower back in a soothing manner.
And this is how I see you
In the snow on Christmas morning
Love and happiness surround you
As you throw your arms up to the sky
I keep this moment by and by
A slight breeze rustling the flimsy curtains was the only noise that remained. Draco and Hermione stood silent and still, just breathing and staring at one another.
He moved first and pulled something from his trouser pocket before taking her left hand. “What’s your name?”
She frowned heavily in confusion, but answered, “Hermione.”
“That goes very well with my last name,” he said with a cheeky grin and slipped something on her ring finger. “Help me stay insane for the rest of our lives.”
Hermione gripped his hand tightly, nearly breaking it. She looked down at the classy diamond and sapphire ring, the platinum glinting in the firelight. “You want us to get married?”
“Well, okay, if you insist,” he said with a snigger. He brought her hand to his mouth and kissed the ring.
“Who the hell taught you how to propose?” Twiggy said with a groan. “That was worse than that walking sack of monkey-spunk she calls a friend could’ve done.”
Draco pursed his lips. “Don’t you have somewhere to go?”
“She didn’t say yes yet.” Twiggy winked at him.
Returning his gaze to the woman in his arms, Draco drifted the back of his knuckles across her flushed cheeks. “Marry me, please?”
Raising her head to look him in the eye, Hermione traced his brows with her fingertips. “I would love to.” She knew they had many things to discuss, but she had a gut instinct that everything would work out.
Unable to hold back any longer, Draco pressed his lips to hers, slanting his mouth over hers and moaning when she swiped her tongue against his.
“The sound of a kiss is not as loud as that of a cannon, but its echo lasts a great deal longer,” Twiggy murmured and winked out of existence, his disappearance coinciding with the ringing of the bells in the church tower down the street, telling everyone that it was Christmas morning.
“Merry Christmas, Hermione,” Draco whispered, once he’d broken away from her delectable lips.
She smiled dreamily and started tugging on his hand. “Come to bed, love, and open your present.”
Grinning wickedly, Draco followed her and proceeded to divest his gift of all its wrappings.