Title: Deck the Halls
Author: Persephone Yavanna the Entwife
Pairing/Characters: Draco, Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy
Rating: G for gen (in other words, completely work-safe!)
Disclaimer: JK Rowling and assorted others have rights to create derivative works within the Potterverse, but I am not one of those licensees, unfortunately. Rather not be sued for playing with the characters, though . . . not making a profit here, just exploring the characters and situations created by the esteemed Ms. Rowling.
Summary: The Malfoys decorate for the holidays
Author Notes: First time writing fanfiction, Potterverse or otherwise. This is the fourth of the stand-alone vignettes from my NaNoWriMo 2006 project to be "published" on LiveJournal. Takes place after Fatherly Advice.
“Draco darling, where are you?” Narcissa called.
Her voiced echoed through the halls of Malfoy Manor. The tree had been delivered and had been set up in the main parlour, ready for decorating. The boxes of ornaments were there too, ready to be placed amid evergreen boughs.
Narcissa supposed she could have the house elves do the holiday decorations, but really, what was the point of that? They wouldn’t have her eye, her flair -- and besides, fussing over Yule decorating was a Black family tradition.
At least for the women of the family.
She sighed and wondered if she’d need to summon an elf to go in search of her son. Bellowing in the halls was more something that Lucius might do, not something a lady like herself should do. And she needed to set a good example for Draco, surrounded as he was at school by mannerless Mudbloods . . .
No, she corrected herself -- I must remember to call them “Muggleborns”, lest I slip and say the other in what Mother would have called “mixed company”. She’d have said it in a voice dripping with disdain, Narcissa recalled fondly. She missed her most dreadfully, especially at times like this, when family gatherings were being prepared for. Mother had been so talented at making good holiday memories for her children -- the kind that sustained them and made them have warm fuzzy feelings inside them when the word “home” was mentioned.
She wanted to do that for Draco, just as Mother had done it for her and Andromeda and Bellatrix. She wanted to do it so much, now that the world was growing darker once again. Her little boy would need something to hold onto, something to keep him going, some happiness to keep deep within for when things crumbled around him . . .
No -- mustn’t think like that. Must keep one’s chin up. It’s the holidays and that means Good Cheer. For all. Even the Mudbloods -- err, Muggleborns.
Now where was her little dragon? Decorating the tree used to be one of his favorite parts of the season. Just him and his Mummy -- having her all to himself for the day. No social calls, no supervising the elves -- just the two of them, making everything all lovely and warm and inviting.
But he was growing up now . . .
The sadness of that thought swept over Narcissa like a wave of frigid water. Maybe Draco didn’t want to spend the day with her, fussing over Yule decorations -- he’s almost an adult, after all. Spending time with Mummy -- well, maybe having her undivided attention wasn’t something that was important to him anymore.
And maybe he simply hadn’t heard her calling and she was fussing over nothing.
She slid one of the drawing room doors apart a bit and popped her head in. Lucius was here, as expected, reading in his favorite chair by the window, a glass by him on the sidetable.
“Darling, have you seen Draco? The tree is set up and ready for decorating . . . ” Narcissa inquired.
Lucius lowered the paper he’d been reading. “Haven’t seen him since breakfast -- might be in the solarium or the library. Try the library first.” The paper was raised again.
“Thank you, dear.” Narcissa was removing her head from the opening when she heard another rustle and Lucius’ voice again.
“Do we have any more bottles of that amontillado? The one Severus likes?”
Narcissa stuck her head back in and said with a puzzled expression, “What? The other bottle’s gone?”
“Well, would I be asking if we had more if it wasn’t?” Lucius said in an acerbic tone.
Narcissa inwardly grimaced. So that was the mood he was in, was it? Best warn the elf who’d be bringing in a replacement bottle, lest it get a kick for no good reason. A little discipline was in order from time to time, but Lucius could go a bit too far. She still missed Dobby -- he’d always been so sweet to her and adored Draco even more than her cousin’s Kreacher did.
“I’m not sure we have any left in the cellar -- I might have to order some more delivered,” she replied. “I’ll send one of the elves down to look and if we’ve it, it’ll be here shortly. If not, how much would you like for me to lay in? A case? Two?”
“Three. No, four. Four should do,” came the voice from behind the paper.
Now Narcissa slid the door open wider and stood fully in the doorway. “Four cases?”
Lucius lowered the paper and glared at her while saying in a sharp tone, “Yes, four.” He retreated behind his paper and continued, “It’s the holidays -- I expect we’ll be doing quite a bit of entertaining.”
“Enough to go through four cases?” Narcissa asked in an incredulous tone. “Really, if you want to invite that many people over the course of the season, you really should tell me ahead of time. I need to make preparations, order provisions . . . ”
Lucius laid his paper down in his lap and snapped, “There’s Yule itself, New Year’s, Twelfth Night -- plus the family gatherings.”
Narcissa glared at him.
Lucius hid behind the paper again. “And I was planning on inviting Severus over. Several times.”
“As well as the rest of your ‘crew’, I suppose.”
“They might come on a few occasions, but mostly it’ll just be Severus.” He turned a page without lowering the paper to meet her gaze. “For tea. Or dinner.”
“Well that explains why we’d need four cases then, doesn’t it?” Narcissa said in a waspish tone. “And when exactly were you going to inform me of this? Before or after Severus Apparated onto our doorstep?”
From behind the paper came a small voice. “I thought you liked Severus . . . ”
“I do like him. But this isn’t about him -- this is about your making plans and expecting me to carry them out without giving me proper notice,” Narcissa said.
“I haven’t invited anyone yet. I was just planning on asking him over . . . ” the voice continued.
“Well, when you do, please make sure to give me plenty of warning. Not so much for Severus as for the others. Severus I enjoy fussing over -- he’s so appreciative without being obsequious. Your other colleagues barely notice me at all -- at least he doesn’t treat me like part of the décor.” Narcissa turned to leave, saying, “I’ll have an elf see about your new sherry bottle shortly.”
She slid the drawing room door shut behind her, then summoned an elf.
“Pippa, I need you to do a few things for me. First, have someone go down to the cellar and get another bottle of the special sherry -- the amontillado. You know the one I mean, right?”
“Yes, ma’am -- the one Master Snape is drinking whenever he is coming here,” the elf squeaked.
“Yes, that’s the one. I also need to find out how many bottles of that we still have down there. If there aren’t any, I need to know that too. Have someone bring it in to the drawing room -- and tell whoever it is to mind their manners, as Master Lucius is in a foul mood.”
Pippa began to wring her hands, but Narcissa stopped her with a curt, “None of that now! I’ll be needing you myself to do some things.” She noticed how the anxiety oozed out of the elf as she spoke those words. Much better, that. She continued, “After you’ve sent one of the other elves to see to the sherry, I need for you to find Master Draco and tell him that I’m in the main parlour, decorating the tree and he is welcome to join me, if he would like to. Mind you say it just like that,” she warned the elf. That carefully-neutral wording would let Draco know his Mummy would like to spend time with him, while leaving him the option of ignoring her. She hoped he wouldn’t, but, well, he was growing up . . .
“And I’d also like you to bring some tea to the parlour. I might need you to fetch things while I’m decorating as well,” she added.
“Pippa is happy to help Mistress!” the elf said, almost bouncing up and down with excitement and eagerness. “Will Mistress like sandwiches with her tea?”
“An excellent idea, Pippa. Thank you for thinking of it. Please make some watercress ones, if we have. If not, I leave it to you to make a tasty tea,” Narcissa said to the elf with a smile echoed and amplified on Pippa’s face.
Narcissa turned, hearing the pop of the elf’s disappearance behind her as she made her way to the library before heading to the parlour where the tree awaited her attentions.
Draco turned away from the shelf of Dark tomes he’d been perusing as he heard the library door slide in its pocket.
“Draco dear, the tree is here. The elves have set it up in the main parlour -- would you like to help me decorate it?” his mother asked.
Knowing how much his mother delighted in his company, especially now that he was away at school most of the year, he replied, “Excellent! I’ll be there shortly, as soon as I put away these books I was reading.” He flicked his wand in the direction of the table next to the red leather overstuffed armchair he’d claimed. The books flew to their places on the shelves and he followed his mother to the parlour.
The tree was large, almost scraping the ceiling of the room. He wondered if there would be enough clearance to put on the star at the top.
“Mummy, I think we need to trim the trunk down a bit, else we won’t have room at the top.”
“Bother,” Narcissa said. She knew she should have been in here supervising the elves when they put the tree up. Now she and Draco would have to re-do what should have been done right in the first place.
“Let me do it, Mummy,” Draco said, noticing the cross tone to his mother’s voice. Having Mummy in a bad mood for the decorating was not good -- she’d snipe at him then in small ways that got under his skin until he wanted to run screaming from the room. If he could jolly her out of it by being The Best Son In The World, well then this would be a pleasant experience for both of them, now wouldn’t it . . . ?
Draco waved his wand and raised the tree a little bit so he could undo the tree stand.
“Be careful! The top will break,” Narcissa warned.
“It’ll be fine, it’ll just bend a bit,” Draco said.
“Famous last words,” said Narcissa, looking at what had been at the top of the tree and was now at the bottom, at her feet. “Look at it now -- it looks awful.”
“Well, at least we don’t have to worry about there not being enough room at the top . . . “ Draco said with forced cheer.
He set the tree down, since no adjustments at the base were now needed and moved back to see how bad the damage was, backing into a table and making the vase atop it teeter. He turned and grabbed it in time to save it from crashing to the floor. He didn’t notice the tilt of the tree growing more and more pronounced . . .
“Look out!” he heard his mother shout as he turned and found himself surrounded by evergreen branches and bits of plaster from the ceiling.
“What on earth . . . !” Lucius shouted at he ran into the room. “I heard a tremendous crash -- are you two all right?”
Narcissa emerged coughing from the boughs of the tree, covered in plaster dust and bits of crystal from the chandelier that the tree had taken down as it toppled.
“Oh no!” she cried, looking around. “Draco dear, are you all right?”
“I’m fine, Mummy, Daddy.”
“Look at the mess here! What happened?” Lucius demanded.
“We had a little accident with the tree,” Narcissa started.
“Well, yes, I can see that. I’m not blind you know!” Lucius said with asperity.
Draco cringed -- another row was about to break out, he just knew it. And all because he was a clumsy oaf. I’m as bad as Longbottom, he thought, grimacing.
Narcissa noticed the face and asked him, “Did you hurt yourself?”
“No, Mummy -- it’s just, ah, one of the branches, it, err, caught me as I was trying to get out,” Draco lied. “In a . . . sensitive place.”
“Ah,” Narcissa said before turning back to her irate husband.
“The tree was a little too tall to put a topper on, so we were going to trim the base a bit. Then the top snapped off and when we put it down, the tree must have shifted in the stand and that made it lose its balance. And so it fell,” she said as she used her wand to brush the dust and needles off of herself.
Lucius hmmpfed. “Should have asked me to take care of that then.”
“Draco was perfectly capable of doing that by himself.”
Lucius waved at the room as he sneered, “Obviously.”
Draco looked at his feet, wishing he weren’t the cause of yet another fight. He hated fights -- and this one was all because of him.
“Well, let’s clean this mess up then. You -- don’t touch anything, you useless creature,” Lucius said to Draco, who nodded, still looking at his feet.
“Lucius, let him help,” Narcissa said. “He’ll never learn to do things if Daddy is always coming to the rescue . . .”
“Boy, come here. Do you think you can see that the stand is on the tree properly this time?”
Draco hurried to check the tree stand. “It seems alright, at least right now while it’s down.”
“Well, let’s see if we can get this thing upright and then we’ll check it again,” Lucius said. He raised his wand, and set the tree upright. Standing amid a sea of needles, it had a decided tilt and looked as if it were about to fall over once more. Lucius steadied it with a spell as Draco scrambled underneath to adjust the stand.
After several minutes, during which Lucius muttered a number of words Narcissa pretended not to hear, the tree was finally upright and in no danger of falling again. There was plenty of clearance at the top, now.
A little too much in fact, as the once perfect tree looked as though it had been decapitated.
Lucius saw Narcissa eying the damage and sighed. So the tree isn’t perfect -- once it’s covered with ornaments, no one will notice, especially when they’re drunk on the punch, he thought. No one will notice -- except Narcissa.
To forstall the imminent pout, Lucius suggested, “We could trim some of the upper branches a bit -- give it back some of its shape . . . ”
Narcissa brightened and Lucius felt the warm glow of Daddy Makes Everything Better as he waved his wand and carefully snipped branches under his wife’s direction. At least then if it doesn’t come out right, it’s not my fault -- or at least, not so much, he thought as bits of evergreen fell to the floor.
Narcissa picked bits of evergreen out of Draco’s hair as she directed her husband where to cut. At least he’s trying, she thought, even if it comes out looking horrid, he’s making an attempt. And since he’s the one doing it, if it comes out looking cock-eyed, it won’t be my fault, since he was the one snipping and shaping.
“Shall I fix the chandelier, darling?” she asked.
“No, I’ll take care of that. Shouldn’t have come down in the first place, even if the tree did catch it. Must not have been put in strongly enough.” That would certainly not be the case after Lucius was through with it! No chance that that chandelier would ever come down on the heads of him or his family or guests Ever Again. He’d use enough Sticking Charms that that chandelier would stay in the ceiling even if the rest of the house fell down around it. The thought of it having fallen and hurt his wife or son . . . well, Lucius preferred not to think about that.
Right then, Pippa appeared, tea tray in hand.
“Oh my goodness! Is the Masters and Mistress all right?” she squeaked in a panicked voice.
“We’re all fine, Pippa. Set the tray down over there, on the table in the corner,” Narcissa directed. “Then would you get some of the other elves to come here and clean up the mess?”
“Of course, Mistress. Is Pippa to be pouring Mistress some tea first?” Pippa asked.
“No, that won’t be necessary. Just get this cleaned up,” Narcissa said as she swept some needles from a chair by the corner table before sitting down.
“Very good, Mistress -- Pippa is coming back soon!”
Narcissa nodded as she dismissed the elf with a wave of her hand, then poured three cups of tea. “Draco, bring this to your father.”
Draco hastened to obey, taking the cup and saucer to his father who was still working on ensuring the chandelier would never fall again.
After making his son wait a bit, Lucius took the cup with a quiet, “Thank you.” He surveyed his handiwork with a smile. Turning to his wife, he asked, “Anything on the tray to eat?”
“I’d asked for watercress sandwiches and it looks like Pippa has them here. Looks like raisin bread and cheese ones too, plus some oatcakes and plain bread and butter. Oh and there’s jam also -- ginger, I think,” she replied. “What would you like?”
Lucius walked over to where his wife sat and settled on a nearby chair, after flicking it clean of plaster and needles. “Raisin bread with cheese sounds good.”
Narcissa chose a sandwich for him, then passed him the plate. “Draco? What would you like?”
“Bread and ginger jam, please, Mummy,” he replied. He took his plate and cup and saucer from her and sat on an ottoman near his mother.
They ate in silence as the house elves cleaned the mess the mishap had made. Lucius snuck one of the watercress sandwiches when Narcissa was distracted by handing Draco more tea and a sandwich. He’d never admit it to her, but he did enjoy them -- but it was fun to tease her about how many she ate herself.
Unfortunately for him, she caught him before he’d completely finished it. She sniffed and said, “Hypocrite.”
He gave her one of his most dazzling smiles in return. “More tea, please, my dear?”
Narcissa poured into the offered cup, smiling to herself. The old fraud. The tease. The dear.
Draco could never understand his mother and father -- hissing at one another one moment, cooing the next. He nibbled on an oatcake as he drank his tea. Parents, he thought.
Tea drunk, plaster dust and needles cleared away, Narcissa surveyed the room. She asked Lucius, “Will you be helping us decorate?” She didn’t expect him to say yes, but she thought it was worth the effort to inquire, even though it was practically pointless to ask.
“Narcissa, dearest, you know I haven’t your flair.” Or your patience for fiddly things, he added to himself.
“You could help with putting up the garlands,” she said.
“Why not have Draco do that?” he replied.
“He’ll be helping me with the tree.”
Lucius considered the matter for a moment. What was it worth to him to spend a few minutes in the bosom of his family, decorating for the holidays with his wife and son? Narcissa loved to create Happy Family Memories and it was obvious that this was one of them. She’d been somewhat clinging lately, especially with Draco off at school. Severus had made it possible for Draco to visit on weekends occasionally, for which Lucius knew Narcissa was most grateful. He’d heard of something called “empty nest syndrome” during some conversations with halfblood business associates and he suspected she had it. She certainly acted as the other wizards had described their wives’ doing . . .
Besides, if he weren’t there, she’d smother the poor boy. He wouldn’t be surprised if his son were on the receiving end of jibes and snickers about the constant flow of packages from home brought by his owl.
“Alright, I’ll help, but just for a bit. Then I have to get back to other matters,” Lucius said.
Narcissa graced him with one of her most dazzling smiles. He felt the glow from it reach all the way down to his toes. He knew that he had done The Right Thing.
Narcissa was delighted. She hadn’t expected him to say yes at all, thinking instead he’d just retreat to the drawing room and go back to hiding behind the newspaper again. Oh, this was a surprise! She’d have to make sure to reward him, somehow . . .
Hadn’t he mentioned something earlier about wanting to invite Severus over for dinner, or tea, or something like that? That would do the trick! She wanted to do something for Severus anyway, since he’d made it possible for her darling little dragon to come home occasionally for weekends during the school year – she owed him for that, oh yes she did. And while he was here she’d make sure Severus Snape was spoiled rotten.
Almost as rotten as she planned to spoil Lucius later that evening . . .
She’d mention it to Lucius later, after he’d helped here. She also had to think which would be best -- tea or dinner? And what day? A Sunday most likely, possibly a Saturday, since she thought he’d be busy on a weeknight with his duties at the school. Hmmm, perhaps he’d be available tomorrow -- that way he could Apparate back with Draco afterwards. Tea would be best then, or maybe an early supper . . .
“Mummy, can I use my broom while putting the lights and ornaments on the tree?” Draco asked.
Distracted by her thoughts, Narcissa said, “Yes, dear.”
Draco couldn’t believe his luck and scampered off to get it before his mother could change her mind.
When he returned, broom in hand, Lucius looked at him, then the broom, and shook his head. “No. No flying indoors. Ever.”
“But Daddy, Mummy said I could . . . ” Draco pleaded.
“Narcissa, what on earth were you thinking to say yes to that?”
“Yes to what, darling?” Narcissa asked in puzzlement.
“Draco says you agreed to let him ride his broom in the house.”
“I did what?”
“You did, Mummy, just a few moments ago. Remember? So I could put the lights and ornaments on the tree?”
“Oh, I must not have been paying enough attention to what you were saying. I was thinking of something your father asked me about earlier,” Narcissa said. “Well, if I said yes, I suppose I should keep to my word then.”
“Narcissa, you spoil the boy.”
“Yes, dear,” Narcissa said with a sweet smile to her husband. “It’s part of the Mummy Job Description -- look at the fine print.”
Lucius scowled but knew it wasn’t worth the argument, especially when he’d jollied her into a good mood by agreeing to help with the decorating. He turned to his son and snarled, “Why can you use levitation charms like normal wizards do? Doesn’t Flitwick teach you anything at that school of yours?”
Draco groaned inwardly. Not another “You should have gone to Durmstrang!” snit -- he hated those with a passion that knew few bounds. If he didn’t think fast and nip this in the bud, Mother and Father would be sniping at one another in moments -- and over him, again. Think, think, think . . .
“Daddy, it’s to help with my broom control. For Quidditch. Madam Hooch suggested I work on hovering and small movements, what she called ‘fine broom control’ and I thought this would be a good way to practice it,” said Draco, hoping his father would buy the flimsy excuse.
“Oh, well, if it’s for Quidditch . . . ” Lucius snorted, not believing a word of the nonsense his son was spouting. He probably just wants to zip around through the halls, Lucius thought, remembering some of the hidings he’d gotten from his own father for doing just that when he was Draco’s age.
Draco nodded vigorously. He was buying it! He was buying it!
“I’d be happier if you practiced ‘fine wand control’ but since your mother agreed . . . ”
Narcissa beamed at Lucius. Definitely due for a spoiling tonight, she thought.
Lucius put up the garlands around the room while Narcissa directed Draco as to where the ornaments and lights should go, making “suggestions” that Draco knew were in his best interests to treat as orders. Better the boy being driven to distraction than me, Lucius sighed, hearing in the background Narcissa’s voice going, “No, dear, a little to the left. No, that’s too far -- more right. Up a bit -- more, more, more. No, no, no! That’s too high!” in a never-ending litany that set his teeth on edge. Good thing he had the moulding for the ceiling as a guide -- wouldn’t do to have her saying he’d put them up crooked and would he just move it just the teeniest bit . . . he had no desire to spend the holidays in Azkaban, after all. He wouldn’t want to vouch for the welfare of any of the elves, though, he thought as he levitated lights and ornaments onto the boughs he’d put up around the room and framing the doorways. He’d be breaking into the amontillado himself soon, at this rate. Or even the whisky.
Finally finished, he turned around. He had to admit the tree looked splendid, lacking only the star on its top to crown its glory. He saw Draco had it in hand, a look of grim determination on his face.
“Make sure to put it on straight darling,” Narcissa said, hoping against hope her son would get it right on the first try.
“Yes, Mother,” Draco said in a tight voice. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, EIGHT, NINE . . .
Lucius mentally congratulated his son. He would have exploded by now, he was sure of it.
Draco placed the star on the tree’s pinnacle, trying not to lose his balance and fall onto the tree in the process. There! He nudged it slightly, using the line of the corner as a guide to make sure it was upright and not crooked at all. He didn’t think he could stand any more of the “adjustment” process. He had had Enough.
Narcissa, seeing the look of grim satisfaction on Draco’s face as he reached out to nudge the star, decided that It Would Not Be A Good Idea to tell him that while the star might look straight from the direction he was in, it was a little bit off-center from where she stood. She’d fix it herself later on, once the boys were out of the way. He had The Look, just like the one Lucius sometimes wore in her presence. It was Good Enough.
Lucius, seeing the tight set of his wife’s mouth as well as The Look on Draco’s face and hearing the tension in his son's voice, decided it was time for a Daddy Distraction. He came up behind Narcissa and put his arms around her waist, whispering in her ear, “It looks marvelous, my love.”
Narcissa turned her head, trying to look at her husband as she replied, “You really think so?”
Lucius murmured in her ear, “Exquisite -- just like you.”
Draco flew down to the floor and stepped off his broom, turning to admire his handiwork. Looks fine from here, he thought. Since he hadn’t heard Mother complaining, it must be fine from where she stood as well. He breathed a sigh of relief.
“Draco, why don’t you go outside for a bit with your broom and try flying through the maze in the gardens for a while. Your mother and I will finish up in here,” Lucius said. Let the boy blow off some steam elsewhere -- the farther away, the better.
Draco beat a hasty retreat, contemplating various forms of matricide as he passed through the fragrant portal.
“Why did you want Draco away, Lucius?”
“Well, my dear, we still have to put up the mistletoe . . . ” he breathed into her ear.
“Ah,” Narcissa said.
“Allow me, my sweet,” Lucius said as he levitated the bit of greenery over their heads. “And now to put it to its intended use . . . ”
He spun Narcissa around and claimed her mouth as her arms encircled his neck. When he finally broke the kiss, he worked his way along her jawline with butterfly kisses until he reached her delectable earlobe, which he nibbled for a while as she moaned in his arms, angling her head so he had better access to his target. He whispered into her ear, “If I’m very naughty, do you think Father Christmas might leave a switch in my stocking?”
She shivered as Lucius’ tongue laved her neck and gasped out, “It’s quite possible -- quite, quite possible . . . ”
“Oh, goody,” Lucius murmured as he clasped his wife more tightly and delved into her mouth again.