Harry spent most of Christmas Eve, his first day at Malfoy Manor, walking around with his mouth open. Not only had Narcissa hired the foremost experts in home defences and had the whole manor redone so it was safe for him and Draco, but she had outdone herself in the decorations department as well. He had thought Hogwarts really went all out for festivals, but Draco's mother had really put on amazing show at the manor. Whereas Hogwarts decorations were usually on the childish side, Narcissa's were sophisticated and delicate.
Icicles, real icicles that were cold to the touch, but not melting all over the floor, decorated the banisters for the main staircase. It was constantly snowing on the first landing, although the snow didn't lay on anything except people when they walked through it. Holly, with bright red berries, silver bells and something with small white flowers adorned the walls in various places in long, beautiful garlands and ivy hung over doorways with sprigs of mistletoe.
Draco had so far caught him ten times in doorways with a grin and a kiss. Harry didn't pause every time he came into a room or anything like that, well, at least he wasn't admitting to it.
Then of course there was the tree. It was huge and it looked as if it had been decorated by artfully trained spiders and then the frost had come down all over it. Candles illuminated the whole thing with gently flickering flames. It was stunning.
By Christmas day, Harry had at least managed to stop gawping.
"You look edible," Draco said as Harry stepped out of the bathroom after doing his best to tame his hair.
They were both dressed in what Draco called smart-casual, with nice trousers, shirts and jackets, but nothing too fussy like ties.
"If I look edible then you look entirely scrumptious," Harry said and smiled.
"Enough with the food metaphors," Draco said, standing up from where he had been lounging on the bed, "it's breakfast time."
Draco had explained that Christmas breakfast was a family tradition, almost as important as Christmas dinner, which would be served at around four in the afternoon. Christmas breakfast was for immediate family, which made Harry ecstatic to realise Narcissa had included Sirius and Remus in that, and Christmas dinner was for slightly more distant family and very close friends. It was going to be a somewhat larger gathering later in the day as Narcissa had invited her sister Andromeda, her husband Ted and Tonks, Snape and Hilde, along with the five of them already in the house.
According to Draco, Andromeda and her husband had not been invited to breakfast only because Narcissa was still in the process of building bridges. Next year Draco assured him, Andromeda and Ted would most likely be staying for the whole season.
Harry was going to miss the Weasleys, but since they had their own family gathering on Christmas day, Narcissa had invited them all over for Boxing Day. It was about sixty-forty as to how many of the current day's guests would still be there on Boxing Day as well.
"Come on," Draco said, grabbing his hand and pulling him towards the door.
[It's like you're eleven again,] Harry said silently as they exited into the hall.
[I haven't felt like this since I was eleven,] Draco replied, beaming at him, [or maybe twelve. Last year I thought this was all gone and now I want to share it all with you.]
Draco charged off down the corridor, dragging Harry behind him and Harry couldn't help it, he started laughing. It was utterly wonderful to see his soulmate so happy. It was the best Christmas present he could ever have received.
As they descended the stairs, Draco set all the icicles swinging so they tinkled against each other.
[Mum used to threaten to take away my Christmas presents every time I used to do that,] Draco said, [but I think she always wanted to do the same herself.]
Harry could feel the charms in the icicles as he touched the garland joining them and on impulse he pushed a little magic into the enchanted chain. The whole thing shivered from one end of the banister to the other and tinkled, almost as if it was laughing.
[Show off,] Draco said, but he was smiling as widely as Harry. [Do it again.]
So he did and this time Harry added a little random spark. All the icicles danced and sparkled with internal light. He had no idea what he'd actually done, but he liked the effect.
"How very beautiful."
Harry turned as he realised they were not alone to find Narcissa standing at the entrance to the parlour. She was resplendent in the most beautiful white dress with green edging and she was smiling.
"Happy Christmas, Mum," Draco said and immediately went over to hug his mother.
"Happy Christmas," Harry added.
He was still having trouble calling Narcissa anything but Mrs Malfoy even though she had made it very clear he was welcome to, so he just mostly avoided using anything at all.
"And happy Christmas to you too, my darling boys," Narcissa replied and held a hand out towards Harry as well.
Harry walked over and took her hand, allowing himself to be pulled into the three way hug. Narcissa released him quickly, but he enjoyed the closeness, just for a moment, even as it made his barriers hum.
"Come then," she said, "our guests are already here."
It had only been a few days since Sirius' trial, but Harry was still excited. Finally being free, Sirius had opted to go and stay with Remus for a few days since Draco's birthday, and Harry had missed him. Harry was really looking forward to seeing him again.
As they walked into the parlour behind Narcissa, Harry's mouth dropped open again, but not because of the decorations this time. He had always known his godfather was a pureblood wizard of impeccable breeding, but he'd never seen Sirius actually look like it before. Even at his trial he hadn't looked anything like he did now. There he'd been the respectable wizard, but not ostentatious. For Christmas he had apparently made even more of an effort.
His black hair was actually styled, he was wearing a thigh length jacket, long, knee high boots and trousers that were so tight they were sinful. His white shirt with a crisp, high collar finished off the whole outfit quite spectacularly.
Then there was Remus, who was not as exaggeratedly dressed as Sirius, but it was more than clear that Sirius had dragged him shopping. The jacket and trousers were more of the style Harry and Draco were wearing, but they were definitely new.
"Harry, Draco," Sirius greeted with exuberance, "Happy Christmas."
"Happy Christmas," Harry replied, accepting the hug when it came, "and to you too Remus."
There was hugging all round. Harry did his best to make his short, but heartfelt.
As soon as they were done a house elf appeared with a tray of very delicate looking long stem glasses containing something that fizzed. It looked like bucks fizz, but Harry never assumed anything when it came to Wizarding food.
"Thank you, Fossy," Narcissa said as they all took one, "if you wouldn't mind telling the kitchen elves that we will be ready to sit down to breakfast in a few minutes."
"Yes, Mistress Narcissa," the elf said with a little bob curtsy and then she disappeared again.
[What is this?] Harry asked as he refrained from sniffing his glass.
[Just some bubbles and some fruit juice,] Draco said, [don't worry, it only has a very little alcohol in it. It wouldn't be seemly to be tipsy at breakfast.]
Harry just about managed not to snort a laugh at that.
"The joy and happiness of the season to one and all," Narcissa toasted and everyone lifted their glasses.
"Joy and happiness," they all agreed.
On his first sip Harry realised two things: it was not orange juice, but something much fruitier, and it was not ordinary champagne. His whole mouth tingled as he drank it.
"That tickles," he said, fingers going to his still tingling lips, even as he smiled. "It's like the popping candy I had once when I was small."
Harry had only ever had popping candy once when Dudley had left a half finished packet lying around in the back garden and Harry had got to it before the ants, but he remembered it clearly. Wizarding sweets often did more interesting things, but he had loved the one illicit treat back when sweets had been a very rare thing for him indeed.
"Muggles have popping candy?" Draco asked.
[Wizards have popping candy?] Harry shot back, it wasn't a sweet he had come across.
[Yes,] Draco said, [but it went out of fashion after someone's teeth fell out a few years ago.]
"Yes," Harry said, answering the earlier question, "but don't ask me how they make it. It just flavoured sugar and something that crackles and pops on your tongue. This makes my tongue tingle in the same way."
He smiled brightly to show he was enjoying the sensation.
[Show me,] Draco requested, so Harry did.
It was at that point he realised that perhaps not everyone was having quite the same experience.
"It must be the magic they use to keep the bubbles at optimum," Draco said. "Mum, if we can figure out how to replicate the same thing without everyone having to be Harry, I think we might be on to a second family fortune."
"One's enough, Draco darling," Narcissa said, which made Sirius crack up.
Remus was just smiling quietly in the background and Harry thought it was one of those perfect moments. Everyone looked so happy. Yes there was a black cloud on the horizon, but at that moment, Harry didn't care.
* * *
Draco absolutely adored Christmas. It had always been his favourite time of the year and being home, in the manor where he had grown up, with everyone he considered family, made it all the better. The fact he now had the opportunity to introduce Harry to all the Malfoy Christmas traditions had him very excited.
The breakfast table was already heaving with breads, cheeses and cold meats as they walked into the dining room and he knew all the hot food would appear as soon as they sat down.
"Wow," Harry said. [Are you sure your mum isn't catering for twenty five, not five?] Harry added silently.
[It's tradition,] Draco replied, [and don't worry, nothing goes to waste. All the cold stuff we don't eat will be packaged up by the house elves and sent to a worthy cause. Once upon a time I assume it was the poor of the parish, but these days it'll be a charity of some kind. A lot of pureblood families do it.]
He could all but feel Harry filing away that titbit of information.
"I'm glad you approve, Harry," his mother said as she glided to the head of the table. "Please, everyone have a seat."
The table was long enough for at least twenty people, more if the extension spells were used, but, as was usual at this time of year, all the places were laid at one end. Draco very firmly did not allow himself to dwell on the fact his mother sat in the place Lucius usually took. He did not want any dark thoughts on such a lovely day. Harry squeezed his hand, so he hadn't managed to cover the reaction completely.
[Your mum looks every part the lady today,] Harry said, [such a lovely dress.]
[You should tell her,] Draco said, glad of the distraction, [it'll make her smile.]
[I'll only say something stupid,] Harry replied, clearly aghast at the suggestion.
"Mum," Draco said as they took their places, "Harry thinks your dress is amazing."
Harry of course started to turn a lovely pink and glared at him.
"Why thank you, Harry," his mum said, "I had it made for last year, but, when it came to the day, did not feel like wearing it. I feel today is a much better day, don't you think."
"Oh definitely," Harry agreed.
"Here, here," Remus added his voice to the conversation.
[See,] was all Draco said to Harry alone.
His mum picked up the little silver bell next to her place and rang it. Immediately the table gained a platter of bacon, black pudding and hot sausages, a tureen of scrambled eggs, two racks of toast, a tall coffee pot and a large tea pot.
"If anyone would like poached or fried eggs or an omelette," his mum said, "please, don't hesitate to ask. Our elves are also very proficient at Eggs Benedict if anyone would prefer it."
[What's Eggs Benedict?] Harry asked almost immediately.
[Poached eggs on muffins, over ham, covered in delicious Hollandaise sauce,] Draco replied.
[Oh,] Harry said, [I think I saw Uncle Vernon eating that once. It was while Aunt Marge was staying, I wasn't allowed at the table.]
Draco very quickly squashed the urge to go and strangle the Muggles who had brought Harry up.
[Want to try some?] Draco asked.
[Thanks, but no, I fancy that scrambled egg,] Harry replied.
"Remus is far too polite to say," Sirius said, "but I know for a fact his favourite ever breakfast is Eggs Benedict."
"Sirius," Remus hissed under his breath.
Draco shared a grin with Sirius, it seemed they both had bashful boyfriends to deal with.
"Well then we shall have to have some," his mum said. "I have to admit it's my favourite as well, but other members of the family disapproved."
No one needed to say who. His mum rang the bell again and Fossy appeared by her side.
"Eggs Benedict for myself and Mr Lupin, please Fossy," his mum said.
"Thank you, Mistress Malfoy," Fossy said, "the kitchen elves will be much excited. It is being one of their favourites."
"I am very glad to hear it," his mum said and Fossy vanished with a curtsy. "Shall I be mother?" she asked, standing and reaching for the drinks.
Harry went for tea, but Draco went for coffee with lots of cream and a little sugar. For many years when he was a boy the coffee pot had been a mystical thing he was not allowed to touch or have a drink from. Hence, once he had been permitted to have coffee it had become something of a personal tradition.
"Remus," his mum said when everyone was served and digging in, "I understand you have started working for a non-profit organisation to assist magical creatures and beings in distress. How is that going?"
"As well as can be expected, thank you," Remus replied, clearly a little surprised to be part of the topic of conversation. "We're in the process of raising funding for our first shelter."
"When did you start doing this?" Harry asked, forkful of scrambled eggs apparently forgotten.
"I've been thinking about joining AMCAB for a while," Remus said with a small smile, "and I finally did in November. It's a very small enterprise at the moment, but we hope to grow."
"Let us know if we can help," Harry said, and Draco couldn't help smiling.
Of course Harry would jump in with both feet.
"Thank you," Remus said, "but we're still negotiating licences for the premises at the moment."
"With Marius Knatchbool's department?" his mum asked.
Remus nodded just before taking a sip of his tea.
"It's been ages since I spoke to Simone, his lovely wife," his mum continued. "I think it might be time I invited her over for tea."
From the look of it that shocked Remus even more. Draco couldn't blame him, most of the Wizarding world was horribly prejudiced when it came to magical creatures and beings. He had been one of them, after all. It seemed his mother had turned the same corner he had and was prepared to do something about it.
"I'm sure we can have all this red tape sorted out without too much bother," his mum said with a completely innocent smile.
"Thank you," Remus said, "that would be a great help."
"Not at all," his mum replied, "it's what one does for family."
[I'm beginning to really love your mum,] Harry said and that cemented what a wonderful day it was going to be for Draco.