The whole of the Weasley clan arrived via Floo en masse, including Percy, at eleven am precisely. They were all turned out in their Sunday bests and even Ron had his hair brushed. Harry was pleased to see that he wasn't the only one to react to the decoration with jaw dropping awe. At least half of Molly and Arthur's brood did the same. The only one apparently unaffected was Bill, but then he had Fleur on his arm and seemed terribly wrapped up in her.
"Good morning and happy Christmas everyone," Narcissa greeted, "we are so pleased you could come."
"Thank you so much for inviting us, Narcissa," Arthur replied for his family.
"It was such a lovely surprise," Molly added.
"I'm so glad it wasn't too late notice," Narcissa said, stepping forward and greeting first Arthur and then Molly properly. "Finishing the protections was so fraught I was afraid they wouldn't be done."
"And it's so important to get these things right," Molly agreed and presented Narcissa with a huge covered basket after she had kissed both her cheeks.
Harry did his best not to feel guilty that a lot of the extra precautions were probably because of him. Of course it didn't quite work.
[Idiot Gryffindor,] was Draco's only comment on that.
"Oh, Molly," Narcissa said as she peaked under the cloth, "you shouldn't have. These look wonderful. I will have the house elves give them pride of place on the lunch table."
"Oh, you don't have to do that," Molly replied, clearly very pleased with Narcissa's reaction.
"Of course we must," Narcissa insisted, "I have heard so many good things about your cooking. I always wished that I had the knack, but baking is not one of my skills. The only Malfoy who ever showed any promise was Draco."
That surprised Harry.
"The only thing I cook is potions, Mum," Draco said.
"Ah, but not when you were small," Narcissa said, smiling at the memory. "Many was the time I found you in the kitchens covered in flour and bothering the house elves."
"Really?" Draco asked. "I don't remember that."
"You always had such fun mixing things together," Narcissa told him in a very fond tone. "Unfortunately your grandmother disapproved and so a certain person forbade you to continue. He did, however, buy you your first junior potions kit. The rest, shall we say, is history."
"I don't suppose you have any photographic evidence of the flour covered escapades do you?" Harry asked in a bid to distract everyone from the fact Lucius had just been alluded to.
"You know," Narcissa said, tapping her chin thoughtfully, "I may have one or two."
"Mum," Draco warned and his mother just smiled sweetly.
"Anyway, that is for later," she said, turning back to her guests, "please, everyone, come into the sitting room so I may make introductions."
[Here we go,] Draco said as Harry manoeuvred them close to Ron and Ginny.
"This place it amazing," Ginny whispered as the family dutifully followed Narcissa.
"It is isn't it," Harry agreed. "I'm sure I spent hours just gawping."
"I've only seen icicles like that in Diagon Alley," Ron commented as they walked past the bottom of the stairs.
[Go on,] Draco told Harry, [I know you want to.]
Harry grinned and put his hand out to touch the bottom icicle. He pushed the tiniest bit of magic into the chain, as he now had done just about every time they went up or down the stairs, and set the whole lot to tinkling and glowing. Much to his embarrassment everyone turned to watch.
"I've never seen any that do that before," Percy commented, "not even at the Ministry."
"They don't without a Harry," Narcissa said, winking at him as she smiled.
He hoped he wasn't going bright red.
"Sorry," he said.
"Don't be sorry, Harry," Narcissa assured him, "it is lovely."
"If you tell us how you do it, Harry," Fred said.
"We could make a fortune," George finished.
That made everyone laugh. It was turning out to be another very good day.
* * *
Dinner was over. There had been cold meats, hot meats, all sorts of vegetables, pickles, cheese, a plethora of breads and pride of place had been given to what turned out to be savoury pastries that Molly had made. The food at Malfoy Manor was excellent, but Harry had to admit, Molly's cooking put even House elves to shame.
Then there had been more dessert and, frankly, Harry had eaten far too much.
The party had now moved to the drawing room. Everyone was sitting or standing around, talking and Harry was simply enjoying the atmosphere. Nearly everyone he considered family was in the same room and he was having a great time. It was a shame Hermione and her parents had had other plans.
"Hey, Harry," Fred said.
"We've had some ideas about that thing you asked us about," George said.
"We should get..."
"...together soon to talk about it."
"Brilliant," Harry replied, "thanks. It can be done, right?"
"Oh definitely," Fred said.
"Awesome," Harry said.
"Stuffy brother at two o'clock," George whispered as Percy wandered over.
"Hello, Harry," Percy greeted, "had a good Christmas?"
"Yeah," Harry said, "so different than at the Burrow," he leant in conspiratorially, "a bit stuffier," he said in a whisper, "but fun."
[I heard that,] Draco said from where he was talking with Charlie.
[I know,] Harry replied, completely unrepentantly.
"More food too," George said with a laugh, "which I thought was impossible."
Harry had to agree, lunch had been quite astonishing, even after the previous day.
It was as he looked around to see if there were any of the chocolates the house elves had been passing round left when he saw Sirius, Remus and Tonks standing rather close together and talking over to one side. His immediate thought was Marauders teaming up with an Auror could not be good news. Just in case, he lowered his mental barriers and froze.
What he was seeing really didn't make a whole lot of sense. There were golds and a hell of a lot of pink, which was almost lust, but not quite and it was swirling round all three of them. Harry slammed his barriers back up and pointedly decided he did not want to know.
[Everything alright?] Draco asked.
[Fine,] he replied, [just don't ask, you really don't want to know.]
[Well you're not running towards whatever it is so it can't be that bad,] his soulmate replied, walking towards him anyway. [You will tell me later though.]
[Probably,] Harry agreed and snagged one of the chocolates he had been looking for as one of the house elves offered them to him. "Thank you," he said and received a beaming smile in return.
"You're going to explode," Draco commented, out loud this time.
"I can't help it, these are so good," Harry said.
He had eaten enough food for at least two people.
"Anyway, I have been reliably informed that that's what Christmas is all about," he added and grinned. "The house elves at Hogwarts started the tradition when I was eleven and the Weasleys continued it, now your mum is carrying it on."
A momentary flash of something came at him from Draco, but it was so fast he missed it.
[What did I say?] he asked, because he was pretty sure it hadn't been a good emotion he had felt.
He really hoped he hadn't put his foot in it. Not that he could think how he could have managed that on the subject of food.
[You didn't say anything,] Draco tried to reassure him, but they couldn't lie to each other worth a damn.
[Yes I did,] he replied, [I didn't mean to upset you. I'm sorry.]
[You didn't upset me,] Draco said, placing a hand on his arm and projecting love and warmth at him, [it's just I get protective.]
Harry frowned. He wasn't following.
[It shouldn't have started at eleven, Love,] Draco finally enlightened him. [Whenever I realise that anything good in your life started then, I have to squash the homicidal urges I inherited from certain members of my family.]
[Oh.] That was about all he could think of to say. [Sorry.]
[You have nothing to apologise for,] was the very firm response to that. [Molly Weasley at eleven o'clock, duck behind me if you want to avoid another hug.]
No one at the gathering had had too much to drink, but it seemed Molly was even more touchy feely than usual when she had had a sherry or two. Harry took the out for what it was and smoothly moved between Draco and the fireplace. They both had such emotional baggage, but he refused to dwell on it at Christmas. Their damaged childhoods could wait for another day.
* * *
The Weasleys had departed just as they had arrived, en masse. There had been silly games, like charades and blind man's bluff, both wizard style of course, and then yet more food at tea time before Harry's surrogate family had made noises about returning to their own home. It had been a fun day, but Harry was quite glad they were gone; they were a very full on bunch. Being at Malfoy Manor had just made them more so.
"What an extraordinary family," Narcissa said as they all retired to the parlour with drinks; "not what I had been led to believe at all."
"It's never good to believe everything you're told," Ted said, just a little too forcibly.
[Here it comes,] Draco said.
Narcissa looked at her brother-in-law for a moment and then took a sip of her drink.
"That is something I have come to realise," she said, much to Ted's apparent shock. "I fear I have missed a great deal in my life because I made the grave mistake of playing the role my parents dictated for me."
Ted was silent for a little while. Harry was sure he was considering if he wanted to continue the conversation.
[Should we do something?] he asked Draco.
[Let Mum handle it,] was the short reply.
"Then everything is all your parent's fault?" Ted finally said.
Now Narcissa smiled.
"That would be far too easy," she replied. "I acknowledge my own blame in the matter, but some of us are less of an independent spirit than others."
"Ted," Andromeda said, placing her hand on her husband's arm, "we talked about this."
"I'm sorry, Love," he said, "it just seems unfair that you're supposed to forgive and forget after everything and all these years."
"But I want to," Andromeda replied with a sad little smile. "This is what I've been dreaming of for so long."
"Ted," Narcissa said, "I am well aware of what I need to make up for. Please allow me to assure you this is only a beginning."
"It takes time to break away from the mould," Draco added quietly.
Harry squeezed Draco's hand gently in support. He knew quite how hard it was to remake yourself, he had seen Draco do it up close and personal.
The way Ted looked between mother and son he really didn't seem to know how to react.
"It's Christmas, Dad," Tonks said from where she had been talking with Sirius and Remus, again, "believe in the season if you can't believe in anything else yet."
Ted frowned, but then nodded. Not all adjustments could be made overnight, that much was clear and Andromeda gave her sister a small smile.
"Anyone fancy a game of billiards?" Sirius asked before the silence could become awkward.
[What's billiards?] Harry asked silently.
It wasn't something he had come across in the Muggle or the Wizarding world before.
[Like snooker only with more skill,] Draco replied, [especially the way we play it.]
"How about Harry and I against you and Remus?" Draco offered, much to Harry's growing concern.
[I don't even know how to play,] he complained.
[I'll show you,] Draco assured him, [it's easy.]
"I can't play to save my life," Remus bowed out gracefully, "you'll need another partner for this, Sirius."
Sirius looked to Tonks, who just burst out laughing.
"Yeah, no," she said.
"Ted's a pretty dab hand with a cue," Andromeda said. "How about it, Darling?"
"Well it's been a while," Ted said, but there was something of a glint in his eyes.
[Merlin's beard,] Draco said, even as Harry decided he was willing to be humiliated at the game if Ted was showing that amount of interest, [I do believe your godfather already knew that. That's almost Slytherin of him.]
[Tonks must have mentioned it,] Harry concluded. [See there is hope for my house, a faint hope maybe, but definitely hope.]
He smiled when Draco looked at him for that comment. Boxing Day was back on track after all. He'd worry about the coming new year later.