Home for the Holidays
by Jace Ridley
December 25th, 1999
Nineteen long months had passed.
Nineteen months of sidelong glances, sneers and whispers as he walked into a room. It had weighed on Draco.
Things hadn’t been “good” since the Battle of Hogwarts. His entire life had changed, and sometimes he wondered whether things would ever get back to normal.
Heh. Normal he thought. What’s normal anymore?
Draco stood in a small field, outside the very last place he ever figured to find himself on Christmas. Or really, any time. Ever. But much had changed in the past nineteen months.
After the battle, his parents had worked with the Ministry to help them track down all of Voldemort’s supporters that remained. Many had fled after the battle, and gone into hiding to evade capture. And apparently Potter, now working for the Aurors, was involved in rounding them up. But in the aftermath of the battle and the months that followed, Draco found himself out of place in the wizarding world that had once been his personal playground.
No one looked at him with the combination of fear, envy and awe they once had. He was no longer the proud scion of the Malfoy family. He was a victim in a war that had changed everything.
More and more he found himself resenting his parents, and struggling to stay as far away from them as possible. He’d go out at night, over his mother’s objections, and just walk for hours. He stopped talking to his old Slytherin friends from his time at Hogwarts. Most of them hated him and his family for turning on their parents, anyway.
Eventually, he packed up everything that was “his” and moved out of his parents’ mansion to get even further away. He just couldn’t stand to live in that place anymore.
It still felt like Him.
Everything You-Know-Who had done. All the pain and the death.
Draco knew he had grown up a cruel boy, but he found nothing appealing in being that kind of man.
He took a room at the Leaky Cauldron, and called it home for awhile. And that was the pattern for many long months. Wake in the morning. Eat. Read the Daily Prophet to see who had been caught. Breathe a sigh of relief when a new name was added. Go out and walk in London or in Diagon Alley. And brood.
He felt directionless.
Nothing particularly interested him. He thought about getting a job, but he had all the money he could need. He sold his broomstick and most of his childhood belongings, doing everything he could to distance himself from his parents… and from the person he had been.
Draco went months barely speaking to other people. Once or twice he ran into someone who didn’t outright hate him in his journeys and he’d keep the conversation as short as possible. He had no interest in associating with the people from his past, and had no idea what to do with the future.
Holidays passed, and he spent them alone in his room or walking. He received letters from his parents every so often, but he never responded. He didn’t want to be a Malfoy anymore, but had no other name. Everyone knew who he was. To the other Death Eater kids, he was a traitor that helped get their parents locked up in Azkaban… or worse. To everyone else, he was the son of conspirators that worked with Voldemort.
He had no one.
Then, one of the more surreal days of his life happened.
It was the last week of August, just as people were shopping for their Hogwarts supplies. Draco had, for his part, not paid much attention to the date, and wandered into Diagon Alley intending to pick up some new books to read from Flourish and Blotts. For him, it was just another day. He made his purchases and exited the store back out onto the street when he heard his name called.
He looked up reflexively. There stood a red headed woman with a maternal appearance rivaled by no one he had ever met before. Molly Weasley. And with her, the last people on the planet he really wanted to see. Potter, the Weasley Girl, Granger and Potter’s best friend, Ron. And on Mrs. Weasley’s hip, sat a small boy who looked at him, strangely.
Instinctively, Draco looked for somewhere to duck out of sight, but there wasn’t anywhere to go. He could have just walked away. But he didn’t. He wasn’t even sure why. Where would he go that they wouldn’t see? That they wouldn’t follow? He didn’t know what they wanted, but he decided to just get it over with. He walked forward.
“Mum, what are you doing?” Ron said, leaning in close to his mother.
“Quiet, Ronald,” she said back to him.
“Mrs. Weasley,” Draco said in a very neutral tone.
“Hello, Draco,” she said. “How have you been?”
“I’ve been fine,” he said.
“Arthur told me you moved out of Malfoy Manor last year.”
“I did, yes.”
She nodded. “I think I understand why.”
He doubted it, but said nothing.
“I know this is odd for you, uncomfortable even. But, if you should ever need anything, or to talk to anyone, please know that I am here for you.”
Draco was confused. “What? Why would you want to talk to…to me?”
“You saved my son.” She touched Harry’s arm, beside her. Potter smiled at her. “Your actions may have helped to save all of my children. And whether or not you realize it, or want to believe it or acknowledge it… you are family.”
“Thank you. But I’m fine,” he said.
She nodded. “Just remember, the offer stands, dear.”
Draco looked at the little boy on Mrs. Weasley’s hip. The child looked at Draco with wide eyes and when Draco looked back at him, the boy’s hair changed to a platinum blond exactly the color of Draco’s. The little boy laughed quietly.
Draco nodded to Mrs. Weasley, then gave a nod of acknowledgement to Potter as he walked off. He got maybe thirty feet before he heard behind him…
He turned again to see who had called him. It was Potter. Potter let go of the Weasley girl’s- was her name Ginny?- hand, and he walked towards Draco. The Weasley brother looked sternly after his best friend and it looked like he said something under his breath, which was met with Mrs. Weasley smacking him on the arm.
Draco said nothing as Potter approached. Potter stopped a few feet away from him and shoved his hands into his pockets.
“So it’s been awhile,” he said.
“Over a year,” Draco said. “So?”
“I just wanted to say thank you properly.”
“I don’t want your thanks, Potter.”
“You have them anyway. You helped save a lot of people that day. Including me. Ginny. Ron and Hermione.”
“What is this? Why are you all talking to me like this?” Draco said.
“Why shouldn’t I?” Potter said.
“We’re never going to be friends, Potter.”
“I know that, Malfoy. I’m not stupid. We don’t have to be friends. We also don’t have to be enemies.”
Draco nodded. “Fine.”
“Just do me a favor and think about what Mrs. Weasley said, alright? She’s one of the kindest people I’ve ever met. She said she is there for you, and she means it.”
“Yeah. I’ll keep it in mind.”
Potter nodded and headed back off towards his family.
That word again. Family.
Draco didn’t have one of those anymore. He didn’t know if he could ever accept another.
Over the next few weeks, Draco began receiving more owls than was usual. Generally, he received his Daily Prophet, and often a letter from his mother or father that went unanswered. Sometimes a package came that he had ordered. But now, he was also receiving mail from Molly Weasley.
At first, he didn’t really know how to take this. He read the letters, generally peppered with small amounts of information about members of his extended family he hadn’t had much contact with. Sometimes, the letters were accompanied by food and confections that he had to admit were absolutely delicious. Every letter always ended the same way.
With love. Hope to hear back from you.
Draco found he actually enjoyed receiving post from Mrs. Weasley.
Her letters never felt like long apologies, there was no begging for him to come home, and the people she wrote about, even though he had never met most of them, seemed intriguing. More than once he caught himself laughing to himself over a particularly amusing anecdote she had related.
As December rolled around, a cold front moved in and engulfed all of London. It was frigid outside. Draco spent more time than usual in the The Leaky Cauldron’s dining area by the big fire. It was warm and well lit, and he would sit and read and drink mulled cider or pumpkin juice or one of the muggle concoctions he had bought in London. He was particularly fond of something called a “frappuccino.”
During the third week of the month, an owl arrived. It was a white snowy owl, similar to the one Potter had during their years at Hogwarts. He clutched a large package in his claws as he swooped down beside Draco and deposited the wrapped parcel into his lap.
Draco looked at the address on it. Mrs. Weasley.
He fetched up an owl treat from his pocket and gave it to the waiting bird which took it happily before flying away, back where he came from. Draco set his book down and opened the package, curious what she had sent this time. Inside, there was a cloth something topped with a letter, and a pound of homemade fudge. He put the letter and fudge aside and unraveled the cloth.
It was a sweater.
He had seen sweaters like it before. The Weasleys wore them around the castle during Christmas break, and even Potter had worn a similar one from time to time. This one was bright blue and had a large gold “D” on the front. It was soft and thick and felt very warm.
With it was a scarf made from the same blue yarn.
Draco realized he was smiling slightly, and he put the sweater and scarf down. He picked up the letter and opened the wax seal.
We are well on our way to Christmas now. As cold as it has been lately, I thought you might want something to help you stay warm. I make these for all of my family every year and was hoping you might accept one of your own. I picked colors that I thought best matched your hair and eyes. I also packed some fudge for you. Homemade, of course.
I know this is a long shot, but, I wanted to take the opportunity to invite you to Christmas here at the Burrow. I hate the thought of you sitting at the Leaky Cauldron by yourself when we would be happy to have you with us. I’ll understand if you choose not to come, but I am hoping you’ll think about it.
Young Teddy, whom I’ve mentioned in my letters, hasn’t changed his hair since he saw you back in August. I think he likes the blonde.
Enjoy the fudge, the sweater and the scarf.
With love. Hope to hear from you.
Draco sat back in his chair and re-read the letter a few more times. Last Christmas had been spent in his room upstairs, reading a book about American Wizarding customs and eating the small dinner that Hannah Abbot had prepared for him. He had been alone now for well over a year and was used to it.
Could he really do this? Did he even want to?
It was Christmas day and Draco Malfoy, former Slytherin Prefect, former Death Eater, former son of a rich and important man, stood on the lawn of a cobbled together five-story house that belonged to a family he had been taught his entire childhood were blood traitors. But the term “blood traitors” just didn’t mean anything to Draco anymore.
He had watched brave young men and women from all bloodlines, muggleborn and wizard alike, die fighting Voldemort. He, himself, had tried to help the resistance fighters at the end. But it hadn’t been soon enough.
So many people hated him. But this woman, from a family he had spent much of his youth tormenting, insulting, and thinking himself better than, had offered him her hand in friendship in the name of family and common decency. She didn’t let the bad things he had done cast a shadow over the fact that when it really mattered, he had tried to help.
And so here he stood, on her lawn, wearing a blue sweater with a gold “D” on the front and a matching scarf, because she had asked.
He opened his rucksack, which held a bundle of small presents. He didn’t know if he had enough for everyone, and he didn’t know who would be here, but he hoped in the end, the thought would count for something if he came up short.
The door opened, and Molly Weasley stuck her head out. The smile on her face when she saw him could have been for one of her own kids. Draco didn’t really know how to process that.
He knew his mother loved him, but he couldn’t remember a time in his entire life she had smiled at him like that. It felt good. It felt warm. And he had been cold for so long.
“Draco, you came!” she said, clasping her hands in front of her.
“Yes, ma’am,” he said, uncomfortably.
“Come in! Come in! I was getting ready to gather everyone for dinner. What do you have there?”
“Oh.. nothing. Just.. some presents.”
“You didn’t have to do that, dear. But it was very thoughtful of you…” and she smiled again.
She ushered him inside quickly, where a dozen or so people were in varying states of holiday cheer. They were all faces Draco had seen before, if not known by name. And he immediately felt out of place.
The room went very quiet for a moment when he entered the room.
A few dirty looks followed from some of the younger faces in the room. Potter’s friend, Ron. Another Weasley boy who was missing an ear (Draco remembered finding this one rather funny back in school) saw him and then excused himself and left the room. A tall man with Red hair was the first to greet him. Arthur Weasley, whom he had met before on several occasions, and none of them particularly good.
“Welcome to our home, Draco.” Mr. Weasley extended a hand. Draco took it.
“Thank you, sir.”
The next to approach was Hogwarts Headmaster Minerva McGonagall, his old Transfiguration teacher. She gave him a small smile (still more smile than he had ever seen from her before), and reached out, touching his shoulder.
“We’re glad you came, Malfoy.”
He winced. She noticed. “Just Draco, professor. If you don’t mind.”
She was quiet for a moment but gave Draco an understanding look, patting his arm again. “Draco, then.”
He saw other faces he recognized. The other Weasley children were there. Hagrid was there, and he raised his cup to Draco with a small nod when Draco saw him. Three older Weasley boys, and the blonde Beauxbatons Champion from Fourth Year sat in the living room, chatting energetically. Granger sat with Ron Weasley opposite Potter and the Weasley girl at the kitchen table. A warm and friendly looking woman who, otherwise, reminded him of his mother sat opposite them, all of them focused a high chair with an energetic small child. The same one from Diagon Alley. And his hair was still Platinum Blond except for a bit of green.
He realized he knew the woman sitting at the other end of the table from them.
“Hello, Draco,” she said and she was smiling.
“Aunt Andromeda. I didn’t know you’d be here.”
“Well Harry is Teddy’s godfather. Teddy adores him. And given the shade of Teddy’s hair right now, and for the past few months, I’d say he likes you too.”
Draco smiled a little.
“Have… you seen my parents?” he asked, sheepishly.
“No, I’m sorry. Despite everything that’s happened, they still don’t particularly like to mingle with the rest of us.”
“I can’t say I’m surprised,” he said, a sneer evident in his voice. She noticed.
“Oh? And you have?”
“I moved out to get away from them, and that mindset.”
“And yet, you cloister yourself in the Leaky Cauldron and don’t talk to people.”
“Who would want to talk to me?” Draco said, quietly.
“How about Molly Weasley?”
“She invited me. I’m here. What more do you want from me?”
“How about a little proper behaviour? There are many guests in this house. You’ve said hello to four of them.”
Draco sighed, “They all hate me.”
“Says who? You? When have you talked to them to know?”
He sat silently, thinking about what she said.
“While it’s true,” she continued, “that you may not be among their favorite people, ‘Hate’ is a very strong word, and you will find that time can wear down even the hardest stone. Some people carry stones like that in their heart, but they are few and far between.”
She was right, of course. He really didn’t “know” in the strictest sense, but still… he just knew they hated him. Why shouldn’t they? He tormented them for years because he could. He was regularly, genuinely cruel because he could be. Because he was taught he should be, as that was how you treated those beneath you.
“I see you brought presents,” Andromeda said, gesturing at the rucksack by his feet and the wrapped parcels sticking out of the top. “If you thought everyone here hated you, why would you do that?”
“Because it’s Christmas. People… bring presents.”
She raised an eyebrow at him. His mother used to do that when she knew he was being less than forthcoming.
He closed his eyes and said, “Because I have a lot to make up for.”
“Draco,” she said, letting out a long sigh. “Nothing that happened was your fault. Your parents are… very hard to love. They isolate themselves from anyone not like them. And they brought you up to do the same. You walked away once you were old enough to think, and do, for yourself. That says a lot for you.”
“Maybe,” he said. “But in the meantime, all people see is the son of…. No, not the son of. They see a Death Eater.”
He grabbed his left inner forearm, reflexively, where the mark had been. All that remained of it was a scar, but the memory was as raw as ever.
“A Death Eater who had no choice. A young man who turned away from the Dark Lord. Who saved Harry Potter’s life. They may not love you, but they cannot ignore you.”
“Ron, can you come help me for a second?” Mrs. Weasley said, without turning around.
Ron Weasley rose from his seat and walked to the counter, where his mother was finishing up dinner. The older Weasley boys came in to the dining room and introduced themselves to Draco. All except the one missing his ear. Draco was nearly sure his name was George. They shook hands and treated him like a person instead of a disease.
Hagrid, who he had nearly gotten fired once, gave him a warm smile and a pat on the back. Even Granger, who had no love for him in their years at school together, smiled at him and thanked him for coming. Potter said very little, but sat quietly with the Weasley daughter. He looked happy. Draco couldn’t remember a time where he looked really happy at school. But he wasn’t the famous Harry Potter here. He was among his family.
Where Harry Potter had no blood family because of reasons beyond his control, Draco had willingly given his up. They were more similar now than they had ever been.
The irony was not lost on him.
Ron Weasley started handing out mugs of warm pumpkin cider to everyone as his mother bewitched a pitcher to fill sixteen of them. He made the rounds, even swallowing his obvious dislike of Draco and handed him a mug of the hot cider. It was a pink mug with the word “Princess” on it, and emblazoned with a gold crown.
“Happy Christmas, Malfoy.” Ron said with a grin that dripped sarcasm.
Draco, perhaps to Ron’s amazement, simply let it go and took the mug. “Thanks, Ronald.”
Ron’s grin vanished as he turned back to grab more mugs. He could hear the boy mumbling under his breath, but when he got back to his mother she looked right at him and said quietly “You earned that one, Ronald. I told you to behave.”
“I saw what mug you gave him.”
Ron turned bright red.
A short while later, most of the family gathered together in the living room by the tree.
Draco noticed that George was still absent. He had been since Draco first arrived. He leaned against the wall, feeling out of place, but sipping his cider. Like everything else of Mrs. Weasley’s he had tried before, it was delicious. The woman had a talent for amazing food. Draco thought it was a small wonder she had been a Gryffindor and not a Hufflepuff.
They began to pass out presents and unwrap their new treasures. When Mrs. Weasley called his name, he was taken aback. He hadn’t expected to receive anything. She had already made him this sweater and the scarf he wore.
“For me?” he said. “Of course,” she said.
“I knew you’d come.” And she smiled at him.
He stepped forward and took the packages, each wrapped in colorful paper and topped with bright green and silver bows. They stood out, along with Andromeda’s and Teddy’s presents in the sea of Gryffindor Red and Gold present in the room. Andromeda’s were like his, in silver and green. Teddy’s, though, were all wrapped in rainbow ribbon.
He unwrapped his gifts thoughtfully, curious and touched that they would think of him. He knew this had to be Mrs. Weasley who had accounted for him. But when he opened the first package, it was a book about Alchemy. Magical Admixtures: A History of the Craft by Burgess Crothenden.
Who would have known about his interest in alchemy? He had been reading a lot about Alchemy in the past year, but he hadn’t ever seen this book.
The second parcel was a book about Romanian Alchemists bound in what looked like dragon hide, and the third was an old journal. Inside was the name “N. Flamel” on the bookplate, and a date range. It was a diary. There were also wrapped chocolates, a set of fine writing quills and ink, some Honeydukes candies, a subscription certificate to Quidditch Queries Weekly and a box from Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes, a place he hadn’t dared to enter in all his time at The Leaky Cauldron.
Draco was genuinely touched. Not only did they take the time to get gifts for him, they were… thoughtful. They weren’t just things. They were real presents.
These mad people were spending money on him that they didn’t have in an effort to include him, because they… didn’t hate him. They wanted him to feel welcome.
“They’re a contradiction, aren’t they?” Andromeda said, sliding up beside him.
He looked away from his… his treasures…and at her. “What do you mean?”
“They don’t have money, like we did. They don’t have a huge house or fine, expensive clothes. But they have all the love in the world to give. And they invite us into their home. Like you, I was taught that the Weasleys were all blood traitors. But the fact is, they are some of the kindest people I have ever met.”
She took a sip of her cider as she turned away from him, and headed back toward Teddy, who was playing with a small broomstick that hovered about a foot off the floor. Harry was helping him stay on it. Draco remembered his rucksack of presents with a start and turned toward the table to get them, so he could give them out.
He ran right into George Weasley, who stood there, missing an ear and the other half of himself. His hair wasn’t red, Draco noticed. It was bright blue, and it wasn’t supposed to be, but that wasn’t any of Draco’s business.
“I’m the one that found out about the things you like. I talked to Anders Blotts and he told me what you had been buying. I told Mum. Everyone chipped in to get you some things you’d hopefully enjoy.” George said, looking into the room behind him, at his family.
“You didn’t have to do that.”
“I know,” George said. The one-eared Weasley inhaled a deep breath and closed his eyes. “I don’t blame you,” George said, point blank. “I don’t blame you for what happened to Fred. I want you to know that. And, I am sorry for leaving like I did before. I just get overwhelmed at times.”
“You don’t have anything to be sorry about,” Draco said. “I was a part of it. It’s my fault.”
“No, it isn’t. Fred was fighting for the same thing you did in the end. For the same thing we all did.”
Draco couldn’t help but feel ashamed again.
“Look… Draco…” George’s eyes found the floor as he steadied himself to say something he had obviously been preparing himself to say. “..take it from someone who understands. Stop. Learn to forgive yourself.”
“Forgive myself? For what?” George looked him dead in the eye for the first time.
George walked past him into the living room and knelt beside his mother, who handed him his presents and kissed him on the cheek.
Draco retrieved his rucksack and returned to the living room. Mrs. Weasley met him as he did.
“I didn’t know who I was buying for,” he said to her.
“That’s alright, dear,” she smiled and touched his cheek. “Give them out as you like.”
Draco had bought a good deal of expensive confections from a muggle candy store not far from The Leaky Cauldron in London, and paired each with a selection of goldleaf Self-Enchanting stationary he had bought at Scribbulus in Diagon Alley that enchant the owner’s name at the top in goldleaf at the top with the right spell. Each time he handed the parcels out, he was met with a smile and a “Thank you, Draco.”
Well, from everyone except Ron, who said “Thanks” and looked uncomfortable.
There were a few left over, so he tucked them under the tree and sat down beside the fire place as Mrs. Weasley returned to finishing dinner preparations.
This was the first time he and Potter had been intentionally in the same room at the same time. Potter hadn’t said anything much to Draco all evening, and Draco realized why. He was giving him his space to feel comfortable. Talking or more would only make this more difficult. He looked over at Potter, still steadying a young boy on a levitating broom stick with one hand, and his other with fingers clasped with Ginny Weasley.
Potter looked at Draco and gave him a courteous nod. Draco returned it.
Potter…. Harry was right. They’d never be friends. But that didn’t matter. This was a family in this house. A real family.
It was so unlike anything Draco had experienced in his childhood, he sat in awe of it.
They didn’t have a mansion, but they had a home. They didn’t have all the money they could ever need, but they had enough. They didn’t have the twelve foot tree, covered in expensive ornamentation, like he had grown up with. They had one perhaps half the size, but decorated with love and a mish-mash of handmade ornaments, and strung with popcorn. They didn’t have a mountain of presents under the tree, but everyone got a few presents that were meaningful and thoughtful that they would cherish.
“Dinner time, everyone!” Mrs. Weasley’s voice chimed.
People immediately started heading to the table. Draco stood up, unsure where he was supposed to sit. Each of the Weasleys seemed to take their normal place as second nature, and the rest of the guests filled in the empty seating. Draco sat beside his aunt when she took her seat, and Mrs. Weasley sat on his other side.
The little boy in his high chair was placed between him and his Aunt, who beamed at the small child. Her eyes glistened as she looked at the young child, and reached up to put a bib around his neck.
“Gamma,” the young boy said, looking at her and holding a small spoon at arm’s length toward her.
“Yes, Teddy. It’s dinner time! Are you hungry?”
“‘Ungry!” he said back. Then the baby looked at Draco on the other side of him. A little of the green in the hair faded back to platinum blonde. Draco smiled a little.
“Dwaco” Teddy said, pointing the spoon at him.
“Yes, Teddy,” Andromeda said. “That’s your cousin, Draco. He’s Home for the Holidays.”