Magic’s Real: A Hermione Granger Christmas Story

[January 2003]

Fandom: Harry Potter
Title: Magic’s Real: A Hermione Granger Christmas Story
PenName: Rhonda Weasley / EV
Character(s): Hermione
Paring(s):
Rating: G
Summary: Nine year old Hermione has stopped believing in magic, but she meets a unique Wizard who gives her a peek into her future.
Notes: This is a Christmas Story and I had every intention of finishing and publishing this before Christmas, but didn’t quite get to it.
Warning(s):
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters created by the wonderfully talented J.K. Rowling.


It was Christmas Eve at the Granger house. The smell of baking filled the air. And the chatter of grown-ups rattled off in the kitchen. The children, nine year old Hermione Granger and her cousin, six year old Emily, were in the living room. Emily stood at the window watching the rain fall outside. Hermione sat opposite her, stringing popcorn for the Christmas tree.

“I wish it would snow,” Emily said. “Christmas just ain’t Christmas without snow.”

“Christmas just isn’t Christmas without snow,” Hermione corrected.

“I think Santy enjoys his trip more when there is snow,” Emily said.

“I think you’re old enough to know-there is no Santa Claus, Emily.”

“YES THERE IS, YES THERE IS!” the smaller girl yelled.

“You’re being silly. How could one man travel the world in a night? How could one sack hold enough toys for the world? How could…?”

“It’s magic, ‘mione. Don’t you believe in magic anymore?”

“No,” Hermione said as she finished the string of popcorn and draped it around the tree.

“I feel sorry for you,” Emily said running from the room.

“And I you, you’re going to be sadly disappointed when you discover it’s all make pretend.”

Hermione sat looking at the tree, wondering where the magic had gone. There had been a time she felt and believed in magic of the holidays. She had a Santa’s workshop toy upstairs that she use to play with all year, imagining the things Santa, his wife, and the elves might be doing during the year. This led to playing Christmas songs in March and wearing Santa hats in February.

She had been about a year older than her cousin was now when some older kids snatched her hat off her head and told her there was no Santa. Her mother told her not to let other people’s beliefs shape her own. She decided to prove he was real by asking for something and not telling her parents about it. She asked for a kitten. She thought maybe Santa didn’t get her letter, because the cat never came. The next year, she tried to stay up to catch him. She dozed off and woke up with a start when she thought she heard Santa’s ‘Ho, Ho, Ho.’ She ran downstairs to find her dad fumbling to put together a doll house. She ran to her room, cried herself to sleep and couldn’t be dragged from her room until the next day.

That was the Christmas she stopped believing not just in Santa, but in everything that was magical. She didn’t even watch movies about Santa anymore; she also stopped watching anything that featured the tooth fairy, the Easter Bunny, even mother nature (who she’d been told was only a symbol of nature long ago). She’d even thrown out all her toys that were bunnies and faries. The toy Santa’s workshop was the first thing to fly out the window (causing a dispute with the neighbors). She didn’t read fairy tales and she lost all her joy. She just plain stopped believing in anything she couldn’t touch.

She was also more alone than she’d ever been. She’d always marched to her own drummer, but somehow she’d never felt alone when she believed in magic. She went from being a bit eccentric to being an introvert, and her parents didn’t know how to bring her out of it. They thought having a younger child around for the Holidays would remind her of that old spirit. So far, it hadn’t worked.

Hermione’s mother came out and sat beside Hermione as she stared up at the tree, wondering where the warmth had gone.

“Hermione, did you tell Emily there was no Santa Claus?”

“Didn’t you say we should always tell the truth, Mum?”

“Yes, but you can’t say what is the truth with these things, only what you believe.”

“I’m not a little kid anymore. That doesn’t work.”

Hermione’s mother sighed and decided to come at it from a different angle. “You remember that warmth inside you used to get around this time?”

“Yeah, I guess.”

“Well, that’s what Emily is feeling now. Her eyes light up and fill with warmth when she sees a Christmas tree. Just the idea of Santa is magic to her. If you could have that feeling one more day, would you take the opportunity to feel it?”

Hermione shrugged.

“Well, don’t take it away from her. Let her have her joy.”

“Okay,” Hermione replied.

“Come help me make sweets for Santa.”

“Okay,” Hermione said, following her mother to the kitchen.

****

Hermione watched Emily get more and more excited as the evening wore on. She could barely sit still as her Dad, Hermione’s Uncle Ephram, read the ‘T’was the Night before Christmas’. She was wearing a pair of red flannel pajamas with Christmas trees all over them. When Uncle Ephram said it was time to go to bed, Emily rushed upstairs to her room. By the time Hermione got upstairs, Emily was already fighting her way to sleep.

“Emily, I know you’re not asleep,” Hermione said, climbing into bed.

“I’m trying to make myself go to sleep,” Emily replied, refusing to open her eyes.

“Just relax, you’ll fall asleep soon enough.”

“Did you ever believe in Santa?”

“Yes.”

“Then why did you stop?”

“I asked for something. Something I didn’t tell my parents about. And I didn’t get it.”

“Maybe it wasn’t time for you to get it?” Emily answered simply, the way only a child in her innocence could.

“Maybe,” Hermione said softly.

Then the room was silent and sleep found Hermione and Emily.

Hermione was woken in the middle of the night by a loud crash. She figured it was her dad or uncle Ephram fumbling with some toy they’d waited until Christmas Eve to assemble. Emily was in a deep sleep now, so the noise hadn’t disturbed her at all. Her sheets were kicked off and she was partially hanging off the bed.

Hermione got up and tucked her back in. She envied her, envied her dreams, envied that she still had magic in her heart. Since she was awake, Hermione decided to investigate the noise. She went downstairs and found all the ‘Santa’ presents had been added under the tree. But there was a man standing there, dressed all in Red. Her father had never bothered to dress up. At least, she didn’t think so.

“Uncle Ephram?” Hermione questioned.

“Huh?” a deep voice said, slightly panicked. Then the figure in red turned around. “Oh, Hermione, it’s just you.”

Hermione could have fainted on the spot. The man that turned and looked at her was a about as authentic a Santa as you could get. He had age lines on his face that neither her father or uncle had. His pudgy belly was genuinely round. And his cheeks, they was just like the books, rosy. Santa Claus? No, it couldn’t be, this was just a good imitation hired by her parents to make her believe.

“You can’t be real,” Hermione said.

“Why can’t I? I’m standing right here.”

“Because Santa can’t let people see him. I wouldn’t get any presents.”

“Well, that’s a Muggle legend.”

“A Mugg..what’s a Muggle?”

“Well, your parents and your cousin and your uncle.”

“But not me?”

“Well no, you’re a witch. Oh, that’s right. You’re not quite eleven yet.”

“What happens when I’m eleven?”

Santa smiled. “Hogwarts happens when you’re eleven.”

“Hogwarts? What’s a Hogwarts? What kind of nutter are you and how did you get in my house.”

“The same way I get into everyone’s house on Christmas Eve,” he said taking a small change pouch shaped sack from his side. “You see, I am a wizard as much as you are a witch. And all it takes for us is a bit of Floo powder to travel along fireplaces.”

“This is mad! I’m going to bed.”

“Do you want proof, Hermione?”

“No. You don’t have to prove anything to me. I know you’re a lie. Someone my parents hired.”

“You’ll never embrace the magic inside of you if you deny magic exists at all.”

Hermione continued to walk away.

“Your mum asked you this morning if you could feel the Christmas magic one more time, would you? And you said yes. So take a chance, help me out tonight.”

Hermione stopped and turned to him, looking unsure.

“If I’m a lie,” Santa said. “If magic’s a lie, here’s the final way to prove it.”

“You’re right,” Hermione said. “So we going up to the roof to see some reindeer?” she asked, knowing he had to back down now and admit he couldn’t show her flying reindeer.

“No, at least not yet.” He took her hand and walked her in the fireplace. “Say next door’s address as I drop the floo powder.”

“What… Why?”

“Just do it?”

Santa threw the floo powder over them and Hermione said next door’s address. She felt like she was sucked inside a tube, being yanked through some secret tunnel, and then suddenly, she was in the home of her next door neighbor.

“So that’s how you do it,” Hermione said. “You don’t come down the chimney at all?”

“I do actually. I come down the chimney on the first of a string of houses and floo my way through the block.”

“Can you go into anyone’s house that way?”

“Only on Christmas Eve. The Floo network to Muggle homes is closed otherwise. Can’t have wizards popping out on Muggles whenever they please. Especially since young ones from Wizard homes sometimes mess up when they use it.”

“This is-this is-it’s AMAZING!” A long-lost grin crept over Hermione’s face.

“The night’s just beginning,” Santa said. “Now, how about you do my check for me? Julie wanted a toy tea set, Michael wanted a Zelda video game…”

Hermione looked over the displayed gifts as Santa continued on with the list.

“The video game’s in the stocking, I don’t see a tea set.”

“I do, it’s boxed. Green foil like paper, red ribbon.”

“You can see in gifts, too?”

Santa simply smiled and took her hand and led her back to the the fireplace. A little Floo Powder and a shout of the next address and Hermione was at the next house, helping Santa go through another gift check. She did this house after house and it never got boring, only more exciting. Occasionally something a kid really wanted was missing and Santa would make it magically appear and place it under the tree. After what seemed like hundreds of houses, he stepped into a chimney, but he didn’t use the floo powder. He held Hermione’s hand, laid a finger alongside his nose, and went shooting out of the chimney like a cork popping off a champagne bottle. He landed smoothly on the ground. Then he whistled. Hermione wondered what was going on now and then she saw it. Moving across the sky as if were just a valley they were running through, reindeer.

“Is Rudolph real?” Hermione asked.

Santa gave a hardy ‘Ho, Ho, Ho’. “I’m afraid,” he said, “that’s just a Muggle song.”

Hermione hardly cared about this one part of the legend being completely false. The sleigh landed smoothly in front of Santa and they both climbed in.

“Hey, watch it,” said a small voice.

Hermione shifted and saw a small creature with a long nose and oversized pointy ears. He remined her of a hobgoblin sort of, but cute in it’s own way. She knew it could only be an elf, but this wasn’t like any elf she’d ever seen. Every elf she saw looked like a short human with pointy ears or a small child with pointy ears (occasionally, a full grown adult with pointy ears). Nothing about this creature looked mildly related to human.

“What are you?” she asked. She recognized immediately she should have asked ‘Who are you’, but ‘What’ was actually what she wanted to know so it came out first.

“This is Herman the house-elf,” Santa said.

“House-Elf? Is that different from a regular elf?”

“Too many Muggle stories this one has heard?” Herman asked Santa.

“Yes, I’m afraid she is the victim of too many of those.”

“Well,” Herman said, “if you are asking if there is something different from Herman at Santa’s workshop, no. It’s all house elves.”

“I’m afraid a true elf would never bother himself with making toys,” Santa added. “They have more pressing duties in other realms.”

“There are other realms?” She turned to Herman. “Why are you called House Elves if you have no relation to other elves?”

“They were the ones that were first used us as servants,” Herman said, a little annoyed. “They’re the only ones who knows our true name and the why of our servitude. They are long gone now, questions can not be asked to them.”

Santa snapped the reins and they were off across the sky. Hermione forgot all her questions as they flew off. She was a little afraid of falling out of the sleigh, and gripped Santa’s arms. She never realized how exposed you could be to a fall up in the sky in a sleigh. Herman seemed to find her rather silly and laughed at the rising fear in her face. Hermione was relieved when they landed.

“Privet Drive, one of the places I hate,” Santa said.

“Why?” Hermione asked.

“Harry Potter lives here.”

“Who’s he, some sick boy?”

“I keep forgetting you’re a Muggle-born witch. A wizard or witch born child would have gasped at the name.”

“Why?” Hermione asked as Santa helped her out the sleigh.

“Well, as a little baby he defeated the dark wizard who killed his parents. A dark wizard who killed many and would have been a threat to the whole world if he had continued on.”

“A baby stopped him? How?”

“No one knows.”

Santa took her hand and jumped down the first chimney on the block, they landed in the home of the person. Went through a gift check as usual, but Hermione wanted to know more about this Harry Potter. She didn’t ask, knowing Santa was working on a schedule. When they reached number 4, Santa led her out of the living room and took her to a little cupboard under the stairs.

“This is where he sleeps,” Santa said in a whisper.

“Can I see him?”

“Yes, but be quiet,” he said.

She wondered why a baby was sleeping in a cupboard. She soon learned he was no longer a baby. When she cracked the door she saw the boy wasn’t much older than her. A pair of glasses, taped up in the middle, lay on a table beside him. The only toys in the cupboard were broken and obviously used, possibly by another. He was a very sad sight to her young eyes.

“What will you leave him?”

“Nothing, I’ve tried. Usually his aunt and uncle tell him his name was put there by mistake and they give to his cousin. Harry only gets them after they are broken.”

“I don’t understand… he’s there nephew, blood, family. Why would they treat him like this?”

“Some people are cruel, especially those who try to erase every bit of magic from their lives. In Harry’s case, I suppose you’ll learn how cruel they are in a couple years.”

“Huh?”

“You and Harry will start school together. It might be in both your best interest to become friends.”

She thought so too. Hermione smiled at the sleeping boy and slipped away from the door.

“If only I could, I would make all his cousin’s gifts disappear,” Santa said.

“Why can’t you?”

“I have strict regulations on my actions on Christmas. I’m only allowed to open the Floo Network the way I do because I invented it. Come on.”

Hermione was reluctant to leave the boy knowing what an unhappy Christmas awaited him. They flooed into the next house and began the gift giving and checking again. After finishing up with Privet Drive and the surrounding area, they flew again. Hermione saw Spain, Paris, Greece. Places she only thought she would see with money and the time to do so years from now. And every time they left a gift, she was filled with the joy of imagining the kids’ happy faces when they found that gift they really wanted under the tree.

Then Santa said “We’re done!” and Hermione wondered if he was going to take her home. She didn’t ask, hoping he would forget and head home. If he forgot or not, she didn’t know. But she knew from the cold biting her skin they weren’t heading back to England or anywhere near home.

Then suddenly, the reindeer seem to break the speed of light and they zoomed ahead for a moment, then popped to a halt over a little winter wonderland of a town. At normal pace again, Hermione noticed the North Pole town was alive. There were little houses, a workshop, a stable for the reindeer. They landed in the middle of what seemed to be the town square. Little house elves ran up to the sleigh as soon as it hit ground.

The house elves unhitched the reindeer, gave Santa and herself a mug of hot cocoa and escorted them to Santa’s house. Mrs. Claus greeted them at the door. She was, as always pictured, a sweet little classic grandma with rosy cheeks just like Santa’s.

“So we have a young visitor again, huh?”

“Well, I had to make sure this little one believes in magic,” Santa said with a smile. “She has important things to do with it.”

Santa invited her into his home and they sat in his living room together.

“So,” he said. “I know you have questions, ask.”

“Why didn’t I get the cat I asked for?” Hermione asked right away.

“That’s easy: the perfect cat for you has already been born. You only need to meet him, and then was not the time, nor is now.”

“My little cousin was right,” Hermione said to herself. “Am I really a witch? I don’t remember ever doing anything magical.”

“Yes, you are. And yes you have. Remember that little boy that pushed you off the swings? Remember how that root seemed to jump out from nowhere and knock him off the swings?”

“That wasn’t magic, it was just an accident.”

“There have been a lot of accidents, when you were upset or angry. Like the year you stopped believing in me and every time you walked past the Christmas tree it fell down.”

Hermione had wondered why that tree fell over so much; it had driven her dad crazy. He’d bought three different stands and constructed one of his own. He’d re-bought decorations to replace the damaged ones from the day the tree went up till the day it officially went down.

“So what happens to me when I go back home, if I go back home? Can I go back home, now that I’ve seen all this?”

“That’s a lot of questions,” he replied flashing that warm smile. “Well, when you go back home, and you are going, you’ll continue to live as you’ve always have.”

“Except knowing that you’re real, and this is real, and magic is real, and…”

“You won’t remember.”

“What?” Hermione asked, jumping up. “But I don’t want to go back to not believing.”

“You won’t,” Santa said sitting her down. “This will feel like a wonderful dream, a foggy dream where you’re not exactly sure what really happened and what really didn’t. You’ll know, but details will escape you. You’ll believe in me, simply because you believe in magic again. And you’ll believe in magic again simply because you can feel it in you now. And one day, when it’s time, it will all come back to you like a forgotten dream.”

“But,” Hermione asked, yawning suddenly, “how will I remember to be friends with Harry if the details escape me.?”

“You’ll remember he needs you somewhere deep down in your heart when you meet him,” Santa told her. “Now, let sleep come to you.”

****

Hermione woke up in her room. She tried to remember what she had been dreaming, but it was hard to remember. Then it popped into her head-Santa Claus was real, she’d seen him. But what had happened? All she remembered is that she’d seen him. And… Emily was right.

“Emily,” she said, turning to the bed across the room from her own. It was empty.

Hermione got up and ran downstairs, where Emily was shaking gifts.

“Emily, Emily. He’s real. Santa Claus.”

“I know that,” she said.

“But I saw him. And I think he told me you were right. What I asked for, what I didn’t tell my parents about, I am getting it, it just wasn’t time yet.”

“I know,” Emily said, a little annoyed Hermione was interrupting her gift examination.

“Magic’s real, Emily,” Hermione said.

She heard her parents coming down the steps and jumped up.

“Mum, Mum it’s back!” Hermione said.

“What’s back?” her mother asked.

“The feeling. I believe in Santa, in magic. I know it’s real, I don’t know how. I just know.”

“That’s wonderful, Hermione,” her mother said.

Her parents thought, even if it was only for one more Christmas, it was good to see their daughter in the Christmas spirit again. But the feeling outlasted one Christmas and lasted until the day her first Hogwarts letter arrived. The parents thought it some kind of joke, but a small piece of a memory slipped back and Hermione said to them, ‘It’s real. Magic is real.’

THE END

Jan.01.2003

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