In a quiet, forgotten corner of Diagon Alley sits
a little shop. Its paint is flaking, the glass in its curved bay
window is grimy, and the battered sign above its door reads
BONAC ORD CURIOSITI S
As we approach it, its door opens and a young man and woman emerge.
Judging by their flaming red hair, the pair are brother and sister,
and the brother is looking anxious. Youre sure shell
like crystal goblets?
You mean, says his sister, better than a Chudley
Cannons season ticket? What do you use for a brain, Ron?
No wonder Hermiones dragging her feet!
Shes not dragging her feet, Gin; she just needs a
bit more time to think about it.
Hermiones been thinking about it since your third
year at Hogwarts! She was thinking about it when you
were still thinking that girls had got the dreaded lurgiesif
she hasnt made a decision yet, Ron, somethings going
She sighs, and takes her brothers arm. Come on, its
freezing out here. Lets go and warm up in the Leaky.
Shall we follow them to the hostelry?
Nowaitheres another customer.
Hes lurking in the shadows, waiting for the red-haired
siblings to leavea tall, lean young man with long, pale
hair, impeccably dressed in traditional robes of black moire silkand,
as they walk away, he steps out into the street and, with a furtive
little glance over his shoulder, he opens the door, and enters
the tiny shop.
Bonaccords Curiosities is overflowing with strange
and fascinating objects, all glimmering in the light of everlasting
candles. There are enamelled cauldrons from eastern Europe and
carved Penseives from the Orient; there are cabinets of cut-glass
Remembralls and shelves of milky, stained alembics; there are
trays of antique quills, and cases of engraved Probity Probes
and piles of old, chipped Gobstones...
But the young man ignores all of these andas though drawn
by an invisible cordmakes, instead, for a pair of silver
bells hanging in the window. Each bell is about the size of his
palmthough one is slightly smaller than the otherand
they are yoked together by a heavy, silver chain. The young man
reaches out and, carefully turning their tattered label, he reads
aloud, Weddynge Bells...
Can I help you, sir?
The young man is startled, but he quickly recovers. How
much for these? he demands.
Five hundred Galleons, sir.
Its a ridiculous sum, even for something so ancient, but
the young man knows that their magic is strong, andquite
franklyhe needs all the help he can get. Ill
Mr Bonaccordfor it is hedrags a battered ledger across
the counter, opens it, and takes up his quill. Name, sir?
I shall pay in cash.
All sales of curiosities must be properly recorded, sir,
replies the old man. Name?
The young man swallows his irritation. Draco Malfoy,
Mr Bonaccord notes it down. And the lady for whom the gift
is intended, sir?
Miss Astoria Greengrass.
Mr Bonaccord looks up from his ledger, and smiles. Im
sure theyll do the trick, siryou wont be disappointed
None of my business, sir. Indeed not, says the old
man, unperturbed. He closes the ledger. The items will be
boxed, and delivered in the early hours of Christmas Morning,
ready for the young lady to open at breakfast, sir.
Good, says Mr Malfoy, andhis confidence apparently
restoredhe opens his money pouch and, with the tiniest suggestion
of a flourish, counts out the golden coins, stacking them neatly
on the counter. And heres an extra fifty, for your
Thank you, sir.
Mr Malfoy gives the old man a nod, and leaves the shop with the
air of someone in a great hurry to be somewhere else.
We will follow him in a moment but, for now, let us stay with
The old man shuffles out from behind the counter, crosses to
the window and, gingerly, lifts the pair of Weddynge Bells down
from their hook. Time to get to work again, he says,
petting them gently.
The bells emit a long, soft, silvery note.
Ah-aah, not yet! Save that for the young lady!
Mr Bonaccord takes a plain, white, pasteboard box from under
the counter and, holding the bells in his hand to keep them quiet,
he lays them inside, and fits the lid. Then he brings out another
box, of a similar size and shape and, laying it beside the first,
he draws his wand and casts a series of spells.
The first spell seals each box with ribbon; the second, in a
shower of golden stars, adds a delivery address; the third transfers
them to a sack waiting beside the old mans broom.
When we catch up with Mr Malfoy, hes calling to a young
woman whos coming out of Flourish and Blottsand,
although it seems unlikely that hes deliberately engineered
the meeting, its clear that hes no longer in a hurry.
The young woman turns, and smiles. Draco!
Shes wearing a Muggle coat and a gaily-patterned woollen
hat, and the frosty airs put a flush on her cheeks and made
her brown eyes sparkle.
Im just going into Puceys for a hot
chocolate, says Malfoy. Can I tempt you?
The young woman laughs, bringing her hands up to her mouth to
blow on her cold fingers. Sounds wonderful.
You need a pair of gloves. He holds out his
arm, and she takes it; they seem comfortable together. Have
you finished your Christmas shopping yet, Granger?
Let me guessbooks for everyone who can read, whichsadlymeans
that the Weasel gets nothing?
Draco! She slaps his arm, playfully. As it
happens, Ive got Ron something very special this year. What
I havent got him anything. She glares
up at him. Oh, I see! Yes. Well, Ive got a case of
Ogdens Finest for my father, and an ounce of Eau de Sorcelle
for my mother, anduman antique for Astoria Greengrass.
Theyve arrived at Puceys Tea Shop, and Malfoy
opens the door, and stands aside to allow Miss Granger to enter.
Why do you always do that, Draco? she asks, stepping
Do what? he responds, following her.
Call Astoria by her full name.
Malfoy shrugs. Table for two, please, he says to
For the next half hour, the young couple sit at the cosy table,
drinking hot chocolate with generous swirls of whipped cream and
showers of chocolate sprinkles, talking happily about Malfoys
potions experiments, and Miss Grangers charity work, and
anything else the conversation leads them to.
Then Miss Granger glances at the clock above the counter, and
says, Goodness! Look at the time! I must be getting home!
She puts some coins on the table and, as she rises, she leans
over and kisses Malfoy on the cheek. Have a really
good Christmas, Draco.
Malfoy watches her leave with an expression ofhow to describe
it?of fading happiness, regret, and hopeless longing all
mingled on his pale, sensitive face.
Soon, well be seeking out Miss Astoria Greengrass, to make
sure that were watching when she opens Draco Malfoys
gift but, in the meantime, let us follow Hermione Granger, and
spend Christmas Eve with her.
Im home, Ron! Hermiones kneeling before
the fireplace, talking across the Floo network.
A face appearsits the young man we last encountered
leaving Bonaccords curiosity shop. Whyre you
so late? he asks.
I bumped into Draco Malfoy. Are you coming over?
Yes, were all ready... Ronald Weasley steps
out of the green flames, followed by his sister, Ginny, and her
husband, Harry Potter. Hermiones flat is small and cosy,
and her friends feel at home there; each makes for a favourite
seat, and sits down.
Hermiones decorated the room with swags of evergreens.
Theres a Christmas tree in the corner, trimmed with Muggle
baubles and wizard candles. And the coffee tables groaning
beneath a huge spread of festive foodthere are tiny tartlets
with rich, savoury fillings, and cheeses and pâtés
on little slices of toast; there are things on sticks, and colourful
dips, bowls of crisps, plates of mince pies, a jug of mulled wine,
and a pyramid of orange clementines.
Hermiones even charmed a Muggle record player to play Christmas
carols in the background.
Excitedly, she brings out a pile of brightly-wrapped presents.
This ones for you, Harry, to keep you warm on your
broom; and this is yours, Ginny, to help you relax in the evenings;
and this,she hands a golden envelope to Ronis
Yours is being delivered, Ron mumbles, uncomfortably.
Its something posh. Ginny helped me choose it.
Hermione laughs. Shes happy and, when she looks at her
friends, her eyes are filled with affection.
You do know, dont you, says Ron, through
a mouthful of sticky chilli sausages, that Malfoy never
just bumps into you? Hes always in the right
place at the right time, Hermione; he sees more of you than I
do. Its like hes stalking you.
Oh, Ron! says Hermione, laughing. Draco and
I both like to browse in Flourish and Blotts, thats
all. Here, try some of these stuffed cherry tomatoes.
The mood liftsthe food is excellent, and the mulled wine
rich and spicyand the friends settle back, and reminisce,
re-telling favourite stories, laughing and joking, and finishing
one anothers sentences.
But when the Potters leave, Ron lingers behind, and a strange,
thick silence fills the room. Its clear that he has something
important to say but hes reluctant to say it, and Hermione
is almost equally reluctant to hear it...
Christmas dinner at The Burrow, then, he mutters,
at last, and kisses Hermione good night.
A few hours later, in a tall, turreted mansion set in its own
little park, far from the bustle of wizarding London, we find
Miss Astoria Greengrass, lying in her four-poster bed.
Astorias a light sleeper and, tonight, shes excited,
so the soft whisper of a gift passing magically through her window
and alighting on the end of her bed awakens her, and she crawlsmost
gracefullyacross the coverlet to see what this Christmas
Morning has brought her.
Its a white pasteboard box, long and narrow and quite deep,
and its tied up with a golden ribbon that shimmers orange
and copper and red in the firelight. Tucked beneath the bow, an
elegant card reads, From your soul mate.
Astoria pulls the tail of the bow, discards the ribbon, and lifts
Oh, she cries, clapping her hands together, theyre
Hermione Granger, too, is awoken by Mr Bonaccords magical
Hermione normally waits until Christmas dinners been eaten,
and all the dishes have been washed and put away, and everyone
has settled down in front of the fire before she opens her presents
but, this morning, shes feeling anxious.
Its not like Ron Weasley to buy her a posh
present and have it delivered to her, and when she sees the golden
ribbon, and the card that reads, From your future husband,
Hermiones heart misses a beat.
She loves Ron Weasley, with all his faults, and foibles, and
his big, generous heart.
But she also loves Harry Potter.
And shes very, very fond of Ginny Potter, and George and
Charlie Weasley, and Neville Longbottomshe has an especially
soft spot for Neville Longbottomand shes not at all
sure that what she feels for Ron is, well, special enough to be
the basis for marriage.
And thats why, this Christmas morning, shes decided
to break the rules andslowly untying the ribbon and, half-reluctantly,
taking the lid off the boxto open her present early.
Its a pair of silver bells.
Frowning, Hermione grasps the chain that joins them together
and lifts them clear of their velvet nest. And the noise they
makethe stream of quick-silvered soundis so melodious,
so... magical, she shakes them, to hear it again.
Yes, theres magic in the bellspowerful magicbut
Hermione senses nothing Dark or dangerous. The bells are simply
reassuring her that everything will soon become clear: that when
her future husband asks her to marry him, she will answer with
a light and happy heart, and that their love will last a lifetime.
Hermione Granger rises, rested and refreshed, confident that
Christmas Day will be a good day.
When she emerges from the bedroom, its obvious that shes
taken extra care in choosing her robes and that, although shes
applied more make up than usual, the effect is more sophisticated
and yet, at the same time, more natural.
In short, she looks...
Hermione Granger may not be conventionally beautiful, but shes
young, and lovely and, today, shes positively glowing.
Let us follow her to The Burrow.
A Christmas Day at The Burrow puts all other sorts of Christmas
Day to shame.
Mr and Mrs Weasley, their children, their children-by-marriage
(like Harry Potter), their children-by-marriage-to-be (like Hermione),
and their grandchildren all sit around the tablethough some
are forced to perch upon stools hastily Transfigured from Muggle
artefactsall wearing party hats and eating turkey and stuffing,
with gravy and roast potatoes and carrots and sprouts and bread
sauce, followed by Christmas pudding and mince pies, nuts and
tangerines, and the excited pulling of Christmas crackers...
And everyone is eating too much, and laughing too much, and too
many charms are needed to stop the sprouts sprouting, and the
crackers crackling, and the bread sauce getting saucy with the
ladies (courtesy of George).
When the meal is finally over, Ronclearly anxious to get
Hermione on her ownvolunteers them for washing up duty.
Hermione, he says, as he dries the last of the plates,
theres something I want to ask
Time to open your present! she interrupts, brightly.
Shes nervous. The bells had made her believe that, today,
when she looked Ron, she would see her future husband. But all
shes seeing is the friendthe brothershe loves
so dearly, but cannot imagine being married to.
Come on! She grasps his arm and drags him back into
the sitting room, where the rest of the family has already started
tearing the paper off a mountain of Christmas gifts. She rummages
under the tree, and finds the golden envelope. Here!
Rons obviously disappointed by his failure, but he takes
the envelope, and tears it open, and reads the card inside and,
Whoa! he cries, his proposal completely forgotten,
the Chudley Cannons Christmas Party!
Tonight, says Hermione, smiling. All the players
will be there, and youll be able
Ron sweeps her into his arms, and almost crushes the life from
But we must leave The Burrow, and travel to Malfoy Manor, to
see a very different sort of Christmas Day.
Herealthough the table is long enough to accommodate at
least two families of Weasleysthere are only six
diners: Mr and Mrs Malfoy and their son, Draco, and Mr and Mrs
Greengrass and their younger daughter, Astoria. The food is elegant
(and impeccably behaved), served in modest portions (because the
lady of the house does not want her guests to think her vulgar),
and the Dining Room is silent, save for the quiet click of silverware.
When dinner is over, and it is time for the women to withdraw,
Dracos father prompts him with a sharp jerk of the head,
and Draco invites Astoria Greengrass for a walk in the Rose Garden.
Its cold outside; the sky is already growing dark, and
frost is forming on the bushes, but Draco casts a Warming Charm,
and he and his companion wander between the rose beds, looking
When they reach the ornamental pool, Draco clears his throat.
This will be his third attempt, but he is sure that, with the
Oh, no, says Astoria, youre not
going to be a silly boy and ruin Christmas are you?
Dracos taken aback. I... I dont think I understand
Oh, of course you do! Astorias peering into
the icy water, looking for any sign of the poor, frozen fish.
I may not be a brainbox like you, Draco, she says,
but I do have the sense to see that it could never work.
And it isnt me, becauseMerlin knowsI
dont expect anything from marriage. But youmaybe its
what you went through during the war, I dont knowbut
youre a romantic. You want love, and kisses, and
roses round the door. And you wouldnt just stray now and
thenyoud want a divorce so that you could marry your
floosie. And where would that leave me? Hm?
She turns to face him, and adds, earnestly, and with a sudden
break in her voice that would move even the stoniest of hearts,
Your father would take my children from me, Draco.
She takes a deep breath and draws herself up straight and, when
she speaks again, shes her normal, insouciant self once
more. So, no. Not ever. All right?
Draco bites his lip, and its clear hes gazing into
his future, part relieved to be free of a loveless marriage, part
terrified at the prospect of disappointing his father
Do you fancy going to a party? asks Astoria.
A party? Draco repeats, incredulously.
The Chudley Cannons Christmas Party, she says.
Im the Patron of Cannons for Kids so, of course, Im
The Chudley Cannons, says Draco, as though nothing
could make this disastrous day more complete. Then he shakes his
head at the sheer crassness of life. Oh, why not?
And that is how we come to be here, at the Chudley Cannons
The atmosphere is festive, for the guests have all been carefully
chosen and the players are secure in the knowledge that, tonight
at least, theyll be treated as winners.
Wandering aimlessly through the throng, whilst his ex-girlfriend
seems to be bonding with fellow fanantic Ron Weasley (of all people),
Draco Malfoy spots a familiar, equally lonely-looking figure,
standing by the window. Granger?
Draco, she replies, smiling.
And, suddenly, bells are ringing.
...when she looks up at him, he sees a light in her eyes,
a joy, that makes his heart lurch, and he knows that he would
give everything he ownsempty the Malfoy vaultsto see
her, hear her, love her, every day for the rest of his life...
Impetuously, Draco takes Hermiones hand; her wonderful
smile dazzles him.
May I have this dance? he asks.
Of course you may, she replies.
Exactly three hundred and fifty-four days later, were back
at Bonaccords Curiosities, because Draco Malfoys
come to settle a matter of principle.
I bought these from you last Christmas, he tells
Mr Bonaccord, setting the Weddynge Bellsstill in their white,
pasteboard boxon the counter.
I remember it well, sir, says the old man.
Well, you made a mistake, says Draco, firmly. I
bought these, and you delivered them to my fiancée, Miss
Hermione Granger; her friend, Mr Ronald Weasley, bought a pair
of crystal goblets, and you delivered those to his fiancée,
Miss Astoria Greengrass...
That sounds correct to me, sir, replies Mr Bonaccord.
No, no, of course it isnt, says Draco. You
got it the wrong way round!
The old man frowns. Well, if you say so, sir, he
admits, finally. In that case, since youre returning
the bells in good condition, Ill give you your money back.
He presses the Refund key on the ancient cash register,
and the drawer opens, and the coins rise out and settle in a pile
on the counter. There you are, sir.
Draco picks up the money and counts it. This is fifty Galleons
short, he says.
Mr Bonaccord shakes his head, smiling angelically. No,
sir. If youll recall, sir, he says, you gave
me the extra fifty for my trouble. And if you reconsider it, sir,
I think youll agree that the service I provided was
everything you could have wished for.