Chapter 1: Advent Wreath
Harry was tired and lonely, and he needed a shag. He needed good meals that reminded him of Molly, and holiday cheer that reminded him of the Burrow. He also wanted to shag a bloke, blond perhaps. It had been so long since he’d felt the warmth of another person.
His life wasn’t terrible. He’d been through worse. Long hours at the Ministry had no comparison to fighting Voldemort. But he was older now, with less energy and patience, and he was sick of waking up in an empty, cold bed every morning.
He had to get his shit together; he had to just relax. A relationship would follow, because quality blokes would sense that Harry could give them what they needed emotionally, physically. That was what he hoped, at least.
The drive to the bed and breakfast was quaint. It had been a few years since Harry drove a Muggle car, but the closest town was Muggle, and Harry wanted to pretend that he was getting away from the magical world.
White flurries licked his windshield; on either side, rolling hills were dusted with icing sugar snow. It made him think of Molly’s Christmas logs, with their gooey chocolate center and sweet flakes of mint bark. His mouth watered. He would need to find a bakery in town as soon as he was settled.
He turned onto a winding road, and trees grazed the top of the car with their bare, gnarled fingers. He liked the overgrown foliage; it made him feel protected.
A cottage appeared. Its face was red brick and fairy lights. It had a large bay window that looked out on the snowy forest, and Harry imagined himself curled up in the window seat, drinking cocoa and watching the snowfall.
He parked and nabbed his luggage from the boot. He spent some time admiring the gabled entrance and all the diamond-pattern bedroom windows. The cottage was hundreds of years ago, and folk had used magic to expand its rooms and add chimneys. The tallest chimney, blackened from soot, teetered to the side like a stack of Christmas presents about to topple over. Magic was the only thing keeping the house upright.
Harry turned and found a ginger-haired man leaving a small barn. The man waved good-naturedly and Harry waved back.
“Nice place you got here,” Harry said.
The man shook his hand. “I’m Mark. D’you need help with your bags?”
“Oh, no, but thanks. Are you the owner?”
Mark laughed. He was quite young, maybe not even twenty. “No, I’m just the temp. My twin sister is somewhere around here. Draco hired us both for the holiday season.”
Harry blinked. “Draco?”
“Yeah, I admit it’s a funny name, but he’s a good man. Let’s go inside so you can check in.”
Harry followed, contemplating. Surely, he didn’t pick the one bed and breakfast owned by Draco Malfoy?
The cottage was warm and smelled of gingerbread biscuits. They found Mark’s sister in the lounge.
“This bloke’s our new guest,” Mark said.
The sister smiled brightly. “I’m Maggie - I’m assuming you’re Harry?”
“Yeah,” Harry said, smiling back.
Maggie directed him to a small office. On the wall was an advent wreath. She saw him looking and laughed. “It’s a present from my brother. I think it contains sweets and coins.”
“That’s brilliant,” Harry said.
She squeezed into the desk to tap something into the computer.
Had Harry somehow accidentally picked a Muggle establishment? Unless Muggles were working a magical house without knowing it? He grimaced; his wand was sticking out of his back pocket.
“It’s strange you’re using a computer,” Harry said, watching closely for her reaction.
“Yeah! But Draco thinks it’s a better way for us to keep records. We just have to make sure not to case spells too closely to the Muggle tech.” She handed him some forms to sign. “I’m sure you already know, but by signing, you are letting us withdraw directly from your vault. Do you prefer daily or weekly withdrawals? I know the goblins don’t like when we set up daily withdrawals for guests staying with us longer than a week. More work for them.”
“Weekly is fine,” Harry said, giving her back the forms. “When can I meet Draco?”
“I’m standing right behind you, Potter.”
Harry startled a little. Malfoy leaned against the door frame, his arms crossed. It’d been a decade since they last saw each other, and Malfoy had changed. He was still tall and elegant, but there was more muscle to his chest and arms. A nasty scar sliced from his temple to his cheek, barely missing his right eye.
Harry’s mouth fell open. Malfoy was the fittest bloke he’d ever seen.
Chapter 2: Snowball Fight
“I never thought you were a big fan of Christmas.”
Malfoy shrugged, his eyes still trained on Harry’s face. “Who isn’t?”
“Right,” Harry said, and picked up his luggage again. “Can someone show me my room?”
“I will,” Malfoy said before Maggie and Mark could speak. “Right this way, Potter.”
The stairs were creaky but polished, and had a runner in a holly and berries pattern.
“The house isn’t big,” Malfoy said.
“Looks big to me. Not everyone grew up in a manor.”
“You will hear footsteps and you will hear the staff working. If that bothers you, cast a silencing spell. I can suggest some of my favorites.”
Harry paused at the landing and gazed down the hallway at a large portrait of a jolly Santa. It was a magical portrait, and Santa waved at them and called out, “Ho, ho, ho!”
“He came with the place,” Malfoy said dully.
“Who is he?”
“His name is Charles Merry, and he claims to be the first magical impersonator of Santa.”
“Huh,” Harry said, “I always thought maybe Santa Claus was one of us who lived in the 1800s.”
Malfoy shrugged. “No idea.” Then he leaned close. “Your bedroom is at the end of the hall, right next to Charles. Tell me if he tries to talk your ear off.”
“Okay,” Harry said, alarmed that he felt Malfoy’s warm breath on his neck. He moved away. “Do I need a key?”
“No, just your wand. Let me show you.”
They went to his bedroom. There was a small wreath on the door with Harry’s name.
“You may take it down if you don’t want other guests to know personal details.” Malfoy held up his wand and tapped it to the polished doorknob. “Joy to the world,” he muttered, and the door unlocked.
“That’s the password?”
“Yep.” Malfoy ventured into the room. He stopped at the bed. “Queen size. Plenty of room. There is also a fireplace. I’m assuming you know how to light it.”
Harry was looking out the window. He thought he saw a fox. “Great view.”
“The forest is enchanting. It’s one of the reasons why I bought the place.”
Harry sat down on the bed, which was feathery and plush. He wanted to fall back on the cream duvet and groan. “Why did you buy it? Why aren’t you at the Manor?”
“Mother’s at the Manor,” Malfoy said stiffly.
“I never thought you’d make hospitality your career.”
Malfoy laughed, and his expression was open. Harry had never seen him laugh or look like that. “I never thought I’d have a career! But the war changed things, and I love managing the house.”
“Even dealing with families?”
“No families,” Malfoy said quietly.
“Right,” Harry said, realizing he’d forgotten. “Adults only. It’s one of the reasons why I chose the place.”
Harry stared. “You are friends with him?”
“He works here.”
“No way!” Harry sat up. “He didn’t say anything.”
Malfoy looked confused. “I thought that’s why you're staying with us.”
“He recommended it! He never mentioned he worked here. I thought he just lived nearby.”
Snorting, Malfoy said, “He’ll be at dinner. We eat all meals together, and you are more than welcome to join us. We also understand if you want to eat in your room. Just send word to our cook, Ernest.”
Harry was very curious. “I’ll eat with you. I have a lot to ask Neville!”
“Let me know if you need anything. There’s telly and games. I also like taking guests to town or snowshoeing with them, but I can understand if you don’t want me involved.”
“I’ll think about it.” Harry felt hot in the face, and he didn’t want to examine why.
“I love a good snowball fight, too.” Malfoy hesitated at the door. “The cold moon is soon.”
“Yeah? That’s cool.”
Malfoy nodded. “Full moons are very beautiful during the winter.”
“I’ll have to look for it.”
“See you at dinner,” Malfoy said, and left.
Chapter 3: Ice Castle
Once Draco left, Harry toed off his boots and slipped under the duvet for a kip. He had a little while before dinner, and the drive had tired him out. It was strange to sleep in the afternoon, and he spent a good twenty minutes staring up at the ceiling with drowsy eyes.
When he awoke, he showered in a charming white porcelain bath with a curtain patterned in mistletoe. After the shower, he dried off with a towel and stood in front of the large mirror. He looked tired and he needed a shave. He smoothed his rough palms over his bristled cheeks. He was on holiday. He shouldn’t have to shave.
Then he thought about Malfoy and how damn fit he was. He didn’t want to groom for Malfoy. He didn’t want to do anything for him.
Frowning, he Summoned his foam and razor and got to work. He always thought the Muggle way looked better.
He went down to dinner wearing his green jumper and his favorite jeans. He immediately spotted Neville at the bar.
“You didn’t tell me you worked here!”
Neville came around the bar to hug him. “I thought you knew! I hope you don’t mind seeing my ugly mug around?”
“Not at all,” Harry said.
“Can I make you a drink? I can’t remember if you’re a whiskey man.”
“Give me something festive. I do like whiskey, though.”
“Huh,” Neville said, “do you prefer something sweet or traditional?”
“I’m on holiday. Give me something sweet!”
“Coming right up,” he said with a laugh. He mixed vanilla vodka, firewhiskey, and apple juice together. “Want sugar on the rim and a cinnamon stick?”
“Just the stick,” Harry said. Neville handed him the drink and he took a sip with interest. “Yum!”
“Yeah, most of the guests love that one. I don’t think it really tastes like apple pie.”
“No, it doesn’t, but I like it.”
Maggie appeared in the lounge to announce that dinner was ready, and Neville and Harry followed her into the dining room.
Malfoy was already sitting down. He stood when they entered. “Enjoying yourself, Potter?”
“Yeah,” Harry said, taking a seat near him. He sipped his drink again. “Neville mixed me up something really delicious.”
Malfoy nodded and looked at Neville. “It’s the only reason why I keep him around.”
“Har har,” Neville said. “Oh, here’s Ernest with the food.”
Ernest, an older man wearing a Kiss the Cook Christmas jumper, emerged from the kitchen with steaming dishes bobbing in the air.
“It’s another roast,” Ernest said, sounding mournful.
“Rubbish,” Malfoy said, helping navigate the dishes to the table. He lifted one lid and smelled the contents. “You make the best turnips.”
“The trick is the sprinkle them with cinnamon.” Ernest shook Harry’s hand. “I don’t want to assume, but I think I recognize you.”
“Just call me Harry,” he said, smiling.
“Good, good.” Ernest took his seat at the head of the table. “Everyone dig in. Don’t overlook the green beans.”
“I love green beans!” Maggie said.
“Yuck,” Mark said, taking two servings of beef. He paused and looked around dramatically. “Ern, where’s the ice castle?”
The table laughed, and Maggie explained to Harry, “Whenever Ernest and Mark play chess, the loser has to do whatever the winner says. Mark demanded that Ernest sculpt an ice castle.”
“I know nothing about sculpting ice!” Ernest insisted.
Harry was wolfing down his food when another man limbered into the room. His beard was wild, his sharp eyes barely visible below a tuff of salt and pepper hair.
“Hello Tom,” Malfoy said. “Potter, this is our other guest, Mr Tom Loup.”
Loup looked at Harry and huffed. “There was already too many people here before you came!”
“It will pick up the closer we get to Christmas,” Neville said in warning.
Loup flapped a clawed-hand. “Don’t remind me.”
Harry couldn’t help glancing at Loup throughout the dinner. A Christmas bed and breakfast was a strange place to choose to live if you didn’t like company.
“Do you like Christmas, Mr Loup?” Harry asked.
“Don’t talk to me,” Loup responded. “It gives me indigestion.”
Malfoy smirked at them, his eyes twinkling. “I find Tom’s presence refreshing.”
“Of course you would.” Harry concentrated on his plate. The candlelight made Malfoy’s skin golden, and his eyes were a startling shade of grey.
Harry refused to focus on Malfoy’s attractiveness. He refused.
Chapter 4: Sleigh Ride
The next morning, Harry woke up slowly, enjoying his comfortable bed. He stretched and yawned loudly. He checked the clock. It was nine. Perhaps he could waste the entire morning in bed. He wanted to wank but he was afraid he’d think about Malfoy. No, it was best if he just got up now.
He went down to the kitchen in jeans and a wrinkled shirt. There was coffee waiting for him on the little table, and he smiled gratefully at Ernest, who was whistling and cooking breakfast.
“Want a fry up?” Ernest asked.
“Yeah,” Harry said, smelling the sizzling sausage.
Neville came in as Harry was eating. He nabbed the chair next to him and set down the box of earthy onions he was carrying. “Just picked them this morning!”
“You must’ve gotten up early,” Harry said, stifling a yawn.
“I always do.” Neville raised his eyebrows and grinned. “Are you interested in a sleigh ride?”
“Just hear those sleigh bells jingling . . .” Ernest sang loudly.
“It’s lovely weather for a sleigh ride with youuuuu,” Neville sang back, his voice cracking.
“I’m all for Christmas cheer, but it’s too damn early to hear your howling,” Malfoy said, coming in from the garden. His cheeks and ears were pink, and his eyes were bright from the cold.
“I was just asking Harry if he wanted me to take him on a sleigh ride,” Neville said.
Malfoy poured himself some coffee and stole some toast from Ernest. “You should do it, Potter. The sights are breathtaking.”
“Do you want to go?” Neville asked Malfoy.
Malfoy examined his toast, not looking up. “No, I wouldn’t want to ruin the experience for Potter. And anyway, I have a lot to do around here. You should take Mark.”
“Sure,” Neville said easily.
Harry watched Malfoy, not knowing how to read him. Did Malfoy want to go on this sleigh ride and he was only saying no because of him? Did he want Harry to invite him along?
After breakfast, Harry positioned himself in a lovely red and green sleigh as Neville and Mark prepared two black horses for the ride.
“What’s their names?” Harry asked.
“This is Holly,” Mark said, cooing to one horse with a red bridle.
Neville was petting a horse with a green bridle. “And this is Jolly.”
“Cute.” Harry leaned back in his cushioned seat, breathing in the clean, cold air.
Neville dropped in beside him and Mark took up the reins at the front. Mark urged the horses forward and the sleigh moved, picking up speed as they left the main grounds.
“Keep an eye out for white foxes!” Neville said.
Harry nodded. He was immersed in the sunlight reflecting off the snow and the towering firs on either side of the path. The horses grunted and huffed, and Mark yelled encouragements to them.
They turned and the path narrowed. They were in the middle of the forest, and Harry saw dancing birds and scurrying rodents. The air was more damp in the gloom. Harry cast a warming charm and buried his hands in his coat.
“I’ve found loads of rare plants in this forest,” Neville said.
Harry smiled. “I’ll have to look around on foot.”
“Yeah, but I’d stay away from the place at night,” Mark said over his shoulder. “I’ve heard things.”
Harry thought he saw a bird among the branches, but he only saw its large yellow eyes. “What things?”
Mark shrugged and yelled back, “There are dangerous animals in here. Everyone needs to be careful.”
“Even a lone deer could hurt you if you aren’t paying attention,” Neville said.
Frowning, Harry said, “Yeah, I guess.” He thought about Malfoy’s facial scar and wondered what happened to him. Had it occurred in the forest?
“Onward!” Mark called to the horses, urging them to go faster.
Chapter 5: Mulled Wine
Harry spent the next couple of days lounging about in the house. There were some good books on Quidditch and some good holiday programs on the wireless. Mark challenged him to a chess game (which Harry lost), and he helped Maggie and Ernest ice Christmas biscuits. He did his best to stay away from Malfoy, and it seemed Malfoy did the same.
The night of the cold moon found Harry curled up in the twinkling garden with a cup of mulled wine and many heating charms. A soft snow fell around him and he used the light from his wand to finish up the last few chapters of Quidditch in Britain: Tears, Cheers, and Victories. The moon was so damn beautiful, and its eerie glow glinted off the delicate snow.
He was full from a heavy dinner of cottage pie and he felt himself dozing off. Falling asleep in the garden this close to winter wasn’t the smartest thing to do, but he was just so relaxed. And anyway, his warming charms were powerful. They lasted for hours and hours.
When he awoke, all was quiet. The tip of his nose was damn near frozen off, and his joints felt like they were about to shatter. He groaned softly as he stretched. He gazed around, still waking up.
There was a wolf among the foliage right in front of him. It was the edge of the forest, and the animal hid amid the trees. They stared at one another. The wolf was large and white, and its eyes were luminous. It was not an ordinary wolf.
Harry stood up, his wand clutched tightly. It was a werewolf, he was sure of it. Normal wolves weren’t that big, and there something human in its expression.
The wolf cocked its head knowingly, then opened its mouth as if in a grin. Harry stared at its large teeth. It could kill me in an instant, Harry thought, and shivered. The wolf turned and disappeared into the forest.
Heart pounding, Harry went into the house and discovered Ernest in the kitchen with a cup of tea warm for him.
“I was just about to go wake you up,” Ernest said, handing Harry the tea.
“Thank you,” he said, mind whirling. He didn’t know how to describe what he’d just seen without alarming Ernest.
“Is everything okay?”
“No.” Harry gulped his tea, burning his tongue. “I - I think I just saw a werewolf.”
Ernest was very still. He watched Harry with dark, wise eyes. “This is a great place to work and live. It’s a safe place most of the time. But sometimes everyone has to be careful.”
“Because there’s werewolves that live nearby?”
Ernest didn’t react. “The forest attracts many things. Some dark, some light. Some harmless, some dangerous. You attended Hogwarts. You understand.”
Harry was quiet. He knew Ernest wasn’t telling him the whole story, and it unnerved him. “Why run a bed and breakfast when it’s so dangerous here?”
Shrugging, Ernest said, “You should ask Draco.”
“What do you think about Mr Loup?”
“I think he’s harmless.”
Harry hesitated. “You don’t think he’s a bit weird?”
“Sure he is,” Ernest said, smiling a little.
“Do you think he could be - ” Harry felt too stupid to finish his sentence.
“Perhaps.” Ernest laughed. “But, then again, any of us could be dangerous. If the war taught me anything, it was that you could never be too careful.”
“Right,” Harry said, frowning.
The hair on the back of his neck was standing up.
Chapter 6: Chance Meeting
Harry’s encounter with the werewolf ruined the rest of his week. He stayed in bed, reading books and watching the snow fall off and on. He avoided most in the house, and turned down Neville’s invitations to town.
He wasn’t on holiday to save unsuspecting Muggles from werewolves. He was on holiday to relax, and the more he thought about his encounter, the less relaxed he felt.
When he was done hiding from everyone, he ventured outside to visit the horses. He took his time walking to the barn. It was a sunny day, with bright, weak sunlight in his face. His breath made smoke in the air, and he buried his hands in his pockets. It was difficult to think about dangerous creatures on such an inviting day.
Harry rounded the corner of the house and almost ran into Malfoy, who was chopping wood by hand. By hand.
“Oh, sorry,” Harry said awkwardly.
Malfoy laid down the axe, breathing heavily. He wore a thin white jumper, and his sweat made the fabric cling to his muscles. Harry checked him out, letting his eyes roam up and down his body. He did it without thought. Malfoy smirked at him.
“Like what you see?”
“You’re bleeding,” Harry said, and stepped forward. He expected Malfoy to move back.
Malfoy looked down at the center of his chest. “Shit.”
A little blood seeped through the jumper. It wasn’t enough to be alarming, but Harry wondered how he’d nicked himself there but not on his fingers or arms.
“Let me help you,” Harry said, pulling out his wand.
“Shall I take off my jumper?” Malfoy asked, amused.
“Only if you want.”
Malfoy tugged the jumper over his head, revealing pale, pale skin and very pink nipples. He was so damn fit, the muscles rippling in his shoulders.
“You must work out with boulders or something,” Harry said, snorting. It was a stupid thing to say, but Malfoy looked very pleased.
“No, but I do chop a lot of wood.” Malfoy had scars too. Loads of them. Harry wondered how he got them. He wanted to trace them with his fingers, with his tongue.
Blinking, Harry pressed his wand to the wound. It was a few days old, and it looked like Malfoy’s physical activity had reopened it.
“Do you cut yourself often?”
Malfoy was holding his breath as Harry touched him. “Sometimes.”
Harry used the fingers of his other hand to stretch the skin so he could clearly see the wound’s outline. Malfoy was very warm to the touch.
“You have to breathe,” Harry said, smiling.
“I can’t when you’re touching me.” Malfoy’s voice was very soft. It was a simple thing to say, but it felt like Malfoy was admitting a lot.
“You’ve changed,” Harry said.
Harry glanced into his face. “I’ve changed some.”
“Do you still like gingers?”
“Do you still like women?”
“Sometimes,” Harry said easily.
Malfoy hissed and jerked back. His wound was healed, but his chest was now a blotchy pink. He might’ve been blushing, or perhaps his heart was beating fast.
“Nice chat,” Malfoy said, putting his jumper back on.
Harry frowned. “I saw something the other night.”
“I know. Ernest told me.”
“It made me want to leave.”
Malfoy frowned, too. “You shouldn’t leave. You shouldn’t feel unsafe either. Trust me.” There was something about his expression that made Harry want to trust him.
Laughing, Harry said, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you so earnest.”
Malfoy shrugged. “You don’t know me.”
“I suppose you’re right,” he said quietly. “See you at dinner?”
“Of course,” Malfoy said, and his smile was so damn attractive.
Chapter 7: Tinsel
The nearby Muggle town was delightful. It was small and had cobbled-stone streets. Most of the shopfronts looked straight from the nineteenth century.
Harry strolled down the main street with Neville and Malfoy. They had a few errands to run and had invited Harry to come along.
Harry had a hard time keeping his eyes off Malfoy. Truth be told, Malfoy’d been a big reason why Harry had joined them. He could pretend that he was there for Neville’s company while secretly admiring Malfoy.
It was a bit immature, but Harry still didn’t know how he felt about Malfoy. Sure, the bloke was attractive, but could Harry trust him?
“Love that place,” Neville said, pointing to a tiny cafe with lace curtains in the window and a cartoon reindeer on the door. “They serve the best buns.”
“I like their peppermint mocha,” Malfoy said, which made Harry look at him again.
“I’m surprised you like Muggle drinks.”
Malfoy shrugged. “I like a lot of things.”
Every street lamp and signpost was hung with garland and red bows. In the town centre stood a Christmas tree as tall as a building, and it glowed with fairy lights even though it was around lunch time. Everything was snow-licked and twinkling. Harry heard a jolly ho, ho, ho in the distance, and he didn’t know if it was a recording or the town Santa.
“It’s probably brilliant at night,” Harry said.
“Yeah! We definitely have to bring you back here.” Neville looked excited.
Malfoy smirked. “A pub around the corner has the best mead.”
“Oh?” Harry said, licking his lips. Malfoy looked at his mouth, then dragged his gaze away.
They passed a hardware shop. “I need to pop in for a moment,” Neville said. “Meet you in a few?”
“I want to show Potter the ice rink,” Malfoy said.
Harry blinked in surprise. “Oh?”
“Yeah, come on,” Malfoy said. “You’ll like it. I promise.”
Neville raised his eyebrows at them, then disappeared into the shop.
Harry and Malfoy ventured down the street, walking slowly. Every now and then, their shoulders brushed.
“There’s a girl who likes to throw tinsel at the people watching. I hope she’s skating today.”
“Really?” Harry asked, laughing.
They made it to the outside ice rink, which was surrounded by Christmas trees and Muggle electric fires. There were a handful of skaters on the ice, some quite good and others all wobbly ankles and flailing arms.
“Oh, look. There she is.” Malfoy sounded excited. He stood close to Harry as he pointed out the girl, then he said in Harry’s ear, “Stand closer to the wall so she can get you.”
Harry gave him a grin. “You want to see me with a faceful of tinsel?”
“Of course.” Malfoy pulled Harry’s arm until they were leaning against the half-wall of the rink.
“You’re flirting with me,” Harry said.
Malfoy laughed, his pointed nose pink from the cold. “Perhaps.”
“I never expected Draco Malfoy to flirt with me.”
“I was always flirting with you.”
Harry stared. “You’re lying.”
“Nope.” Malfoy’s lips curled into a burning smile. “I was desperate for your attention.”
“Yeah, but that’s different.”
“Not really.” Malfoy looked away, his eyes intense. “I suppose it doesn’t matter now. I’m maimed.”
“You are talking about your scars.”
Harry’s heart was pounding. He was sure Malfoy wasn’t telling him the whole story; he was sure that everyone back at the house knew something about the werewolf he’d spotted, but it was hard to focus on that now. Not when Malfoy was admitting to flirting with him.
Harry licked his lips again and said quietly, “I like your scars.”
Malfoy brushed Harry’s fringe back with a gentle hand. “I like your scar.”
“Rubbish! You always called me scarhead.”
“Sometimes my flirting wasn’t very successful.”
Harry laughed. “It did the opposite. You want people to like you when you flirt.”
“I only wanted you to think of me.” There was a nice blush on Malfoy’s cheeks, and Harry couldn’t look away.
“Were you excited when you found out I’d be staying at your bed and breakfast?”
“I was interested. I didn’t know that you liked blokes.”
Shrugging, Harry said, “I’ve fought to keep it out of the rags. My sexuality is nobody’s business but mine.”
Just then, the girl skated past Harry and threw a handful of tinsel into his face. Malfoy laughed and helped pick the silver strands from Harry’s hair.
Harry leaned close, smelling his cologne and feeling the heat of his body. He was dying to kiss Malfoy.
Chapter 8: Christmas Baking
That night after dinner, Malfoy and Harry helped Ernest clean up the kitchen. This embarrassed Ernest, who stomped his foot and crossed his arms.
“You pay me to do this,” Ernest said.
Malfoy shrugged. “And sometimes I will help you.” He eyed the flour and sugar and biscuit cutters. “Are we all out of Christmas biscuits?”
“We’re all out of cookies,” Ernest said. “I was going to make more tomorrow.”
“Want help me make some cookies?” Malfoy said to Harry.
Harry grinned. “Sure.”
When Ernest left, they got to work. They used their wands to sift the dry ingredients and cut in the cold butter; then they rolled the dough delicately, their hands and shirts covered in flour.
“You got some on your cheek,” Harry said, and brushed his fingers against Malfoy’s warm face. “Shit. I just got more on you.”
Malfoy laughed and leaned close. “Doesn’t matter. You should touch me more often.”
“Only if you’re good,” Harry said, trying to hide his shiver.
Malfoy smirked. “What if I’m bad?”
Harry let his gaze drop to Malfoy’s mouth. The previous urge was back, and all he could think about was leaning in and tasting Malfoy’s thin lips. He should do it. He was a grown man. He’d kissed tons of blokes.
“We can’t let this dough get too warm,” Malfoy said, turning away.
Harry cursed his hesitation and focused again on their task. “What kind of shapes do you want?”
“All of them,” Malfoy said, voice rough. “Though the reindeers are the hardest to pull off. Their antlers like to break.”
“Got it.” Harry chose a tree and and a star. Malfoy cut out gingerbread men and stockings.
When the cookies were in the oven, Harry and Malfoy washed their hands in the sink, their shoulders touching.
Just do it, Harry thought, and turned to him.
“Want some cocoa?”
“Oh, yeah. I’d like that.”
Malfoy moved to another counter to fill the kettle with water. He carefully added the cocoa to Santa mugs.
“Taste it,” Malfoy said when both drinks were ready.
Harry took a sip and his eyes lit up. “This is quite good!”
“Can’t even tell it’s made from water.”
“No, you can’t. Is it a magical brand?”
Malfoy snorted. “Of course.”
Harry set down his mug. He couldn’t take it anymore. There was something so familiar about Malfoy yet so damn tempting. Harry wanted to taste him over and over.
“I’m going to kiss you now,” Harry said, expecting a sarcastic reply, but Malfoy stilled. He stared at Harry with intensity.
“Please,” Malfoy whispered.
Harry wrapped his arms around him and brought him closer. Malfoy was big and lanky, and Harry felt almost small compared to him. He tilted his head to make sure his glasses weren’t in the way; then he kissed Malfoy softly.
Malfoy moaned and buried his hands in Harry’s shirt. He parted his lips, letting Harry brush his tongue, and Merlin, he tasted like cocoa and wine. Harry throbbed with arousal. He wanted to drop to his knees to suck Malfoy’s cock.
“Please,” Malfoy said again, and his voice was so damn sexy. He kissed Harry’s chin and mouthed down his neck.
“I want you,” Harry moaned, arching against him.
“How? Tell me how.”
“I don’t care. I just want you.”
Malfoy kissed him over and over. “I’ve got secrets, Potter.”
“Shut up,” Harry said, and pulled him so close that Harry felt his erection. They thrust against each other, no rush, enjoying the sensation.
“I don’t want to lie to you.”
The warning was registering in the back of Harry’s mind, but he was on holiday, damn it. He didn’t care about secrets. He didn’t care about what was right. He was tired and randy and he wanted to stop thinking.
“I want to suck your cock,” Harry said.
Malfoy groaned deeply. His hands dropped down to work over Harry’s arse. “And I want to fuck you.”
A scream came from outside. They both stopped to listen closely.
“Help!” screamed a man. “Help!”
They rushed through the back door into the dark garden. They had to follow the noise until they almost hit the barn.
“What is it?” Malfoy said.
Neville kneeled over a bleeding man. It was Ernest.
“He was attacked,” Neville said, near tears. “We need to get him to St Mungo’s.”
Harry lowered his illuminated wand close to Ernest’s face. His eyes rolled back and his mouth sagged open. Something had sunk its teeth into his neck.
“Don’t let go,” Harry said to Neville, who was trying to stanch the bleeding with his hands. “Do you think you can Disapparate with him?”
Neville nodded shakily. “I just need help getting him up.”
Harry and Malfoy helped Ernest into a standing position. Malfoy muttered a spell and Ernest became weightless.
“We’ll follow you.” Malfoy looked reassuringly into Neville’s eyes. “You got this. He’s going to be okay.”
“Yes,” Neville said, determined. He spun gently and Disapparated.
Malfoy wrapped his arms around Harry, and a moment later, they were gone, too.
Chapter 9: Untimely Breakup
The lights in St Mungo’s were harsh and the corridors were empty. Harry, Neville, and Malfoy waited in the lobby for word on Ernest’s condition. The mood was somber and anxious, and Harry couldn’t believe that only a few hours ago he’d been snogging Malfoy.
“How did you find him?” Harry asked Neville.
Neville shook his head. He was still trembling, and his face was white. “Just by stupid luck. I was coming back from town when I heard his scream. It wasn’t loud, but thankfully I was close enough to hear it.”
“Did you see who attacked him?” Malfoy said sharply.
“Did you hear footsteps or anything else?” Harry said.
“No.” Neville frowned. “That is what’s strange about it. I heard Ernest’s scream and it probably only took me a few seconds to reach him. By then his attacker was gone.”
Harry stood. He was used to investigations and inquiring questions. He was used to it and sick of it. He also didn’t like what his gut was telling him.
“The wound looked like a bite. The Healer said so herself.”
“We don’t know that,” Malfoy said, and he sounded defensive.
Harry stared at him. “Are you hiding something?”
Malfoy laughed. “Nothing has changed! Always suspecting me!”
“I’m not stupid, you know. Solving crimes and getting to the bottom of things is my job. Ever since I arrived, I’ve had a feeling you two were hiding something, that everyone was hiding something.”
Malfoy stood, too. He paced away from Harry and Neville. “We’re not hiding anything,” he said, shoulders tense, teeth gritted.
Harry was watching Neville, who had a dark and conflicted expression on his face. He felt Harry’s eyes and looked down at the floor.
“There will be an investigation,” Harry said gruffly. “Right now, my colleagues are swarming your garden. They will find out what you’re hiding, even if you refuse to tell me.”
Malfoy swerved toward him and nearly shouted, “We aren’t hiding anything!”
Harry glared at him. He couldn’t hide his anger, his disappointment. He’d trusted Malfoy enough to snog him, to tell him that he wanted to shag him, but it was obvious that he’d been an idiot. He didn’t know Malfoy. He didn’t know his secrets or his motivations. Until Malfoy decided to be honest with him, he needed to treat him like any other witness in a crime.
Harry sighed and rubbed his hands over his face. Merlin, no matter what he did, crime and violence followed him. He’d taken an entire month off to go on holiday, only for the cheerful, old cook to damn near get his throat ripped out. What did Harry have to do to get some peace and quiet?
The Healer appeared in the lounge. She was small and ginger and very tired. “You may briefly see Ernest now. He can’t speak, but he will live.”
“Oh, thank Merlin,” Neville said, choked up.
They followed her down the quiet corridor into a single room. Ernest was pale and weak on the bed, but he smiled softly when he saw them.
“Brave chap,” Malfoy said, patting Ernest’s hand. “Not even death can get the better of you.”
Ernest’s shoulders shook with a laugh, but then he grimaced and slumped against his pillow.
“Are you in pain, Ern?” Neville said. “Are they giving you enough potions?”
Ernest held up a weak thumb.
“You will be questioned about your attack,” Harry said, wanting to warn the poor man. “The Aurors don’t like to wait, even if you can barely speak.”
Ernest nodded, but Malfoy flinched. This made Harry want to drag Malfoy to the DMLE to question him.
“Get some rest,” Neville said quietly. “I will visit you tomorrow.”
“I will, too,” Malfoy said.
Harry nodded in agreement and followed them back into the corridor. Malfoy turned to him, his mouth opening to speak, but Harry raised his hand.
“I don’t need anymore of your lies.”
Harry walked away. All he wanted to do was go home.
Chapter 10: Sad Christmas Songs
A group of Aurors swarmed the bed and breakfast. Harry contemplated sneaking past to go up to bed, but it was best to get their questions out of the way.
“Harry!” Dean said, who had just come in from the cold garden. “I was told you’d be here but I didn’t believe it.”
Harry managed a handshake. “This is what I get for going on holiday.”
Dean laughed, but then he saw Harry’s expression and stopped. “Terrible luck, mate. We heard the old man will be fine.”
“I don’t know if he’ll be fine, but he’s going to live.” Harry looked around blurrily. He was knackered and he just wanted to be in bed. “What have you lot uncovered so far?”
Dean shifted uncomfortably. “Can’t say. You’re involved and well, you know protocol.”
Sighing, Harry said, “Do you need to question me?”
Harry sat down on the sofa. He grabbed his knees. “Go on. Do it.”
“I need to get Merkins,” Dean said, and rushed away.
While Dean was gone, Harry thought about what he would say. Should he bring up his werewolf suspicions? The problem was that he didn’t have much proof. But before he could decide, they returned.
“Sorry you have to deal with this,” Merkins said, an older Auror with grey hair and large glasses.
“Yeah, me too.”
Dean pulled out his notes. “Where were you when Ernest was attacked?”
“In the kitchen with Malfoy.”
“What were you doing?”
Harry smiled faintly. “We were snogging.”
Bless Dean for not even pausing. “What did you hear?”
“We heard a scream, maybe more than one. I don’t know if it was Ernest’s scream or Neville’s.”
“And Neville found him?” Merkins said.
“Did Neville dislike Ernest?” Dean asked.
Harry gaped. “Neville didn’t attack him! He was broken up about it. He’s devastated.”
“Murderers can be devastated. You know that, Harry,” Dean said.
Harry shook his head. “Neville isn’t a murderer. He isn’t violent either.” Harry hesitated, worrying his mouth. “I think I saw a werewolf during the cold moon.”
Dean and Merkins looked at him. “What?” Dean said.
“Yeah, a werewolf. I’ve seen them before in person and I’m certain it was a werewolf.”
“Where did you see it?”
“In the garden. Near the house.”
“Last night wasn’t a full moon,” Merkins said.
“I know that,” Harry said, losing patience. “But I also know that Greyback could change without a full moon.”
Dean was frowning hard. “We Floo’ed St Mungo’s. They said the wound looked like a bite.”
“It did look like one,” Harry said.
Merkins shook his head. “Greyback was a special case. Most werewolves would never choose to transform more than they have to.”
“Maybe it was a wild animal,” Dean said, speculating. “We’ll have to ask about what other magical creatures are known to live in the woods.”
“Maybe it was an Animagus,” Harry said.
“It sounds like you know more than what you’re saying,” Dean said.
Harry paused. He didn’t want to get his friends into trouble, but he also didn’t want to hinder the investigation. “I don’t know,” he said slowly. “Everyone’s been great since I arrived here, except for one. It’s just that I have this feeling they are all hiding a secret.”
“Who is the exception?” Dean asked.
“Mr Loup, the other guest here.”
“He’s on our list to question.”
Dean and Merkins looked at each other.
“We Summoned Malfoy’s Ministry record before coming here and it was strange,” Dean said.
“How was it strange?”
“It had coded language. Some of it was classified.”
“What?” Harry blinked. “Those files are rarely classified. It doesn’t make any sense.”
“Unless he is hiding a big secret.”
“Are you sure Malfoy was with you when the attack happened?” Merkins said.
“Yeah, I wouldn’t lie about that.” Harry’s heart was pounding hard. He thought about Malfoy’s scars. They looked awfully like Remus’ scars. He gazed up at them, unable to speak. He didn’t want to say it.
Dean read his thoughts. “Let’s not jump to any conclusions before we question Malfoy.”
“Yeah,” Merkins said, shutting his own notepad. “You should get some sleep, Harry.”
“Okay.” Harry stood and said goodbye. At his bedroom door he waved sadly to Charles and muttered his password.
Inside he stripped his clothes off and crawled under his duvet. It’d been a long, terrible night. He was exhausted but his eyes refused to stay closed. He turned on the wireless with a tired swish of his wand, making sure the volume was low, and sad Christmas songs whispered to him.
It was so strange not to be part of the investigation. It was his career, his whole damn life, and he was desperate to know the truth. He wanted to question Malfoy himself.
I’ll Floo Hermione tomorrow, he thought sleepily. She and Ron were busy with their children and their work, but they were still his best mates. They would help him sort it all out.
Chapter 11: Enchanted Garland
Breakfast was quiet in the morning. Maggie fried some sausage and eggs, sniffling, her eyes bloodshot. Mark was pale and sleep-deprived as he sliced and buttered bread.
Harry sat down next to Neville to eat. Malfoy nor Mr Loup made an appearance, and Harry tried not to think anything of it. He gulped his coffee, needing it to wake him up, clear his mind. He couldn’t be groggily jumping to conclusions.
After breakfast, he owled Hermione to set up a Floo chat. Mind if I eat while we talk? I have a busy day and noon is the only time that works for me, she wrote back. He sent back a quick reply, agreeing to the time.
He wandered to town to waste some hours. A few of the Muggle shopkeepers gave him anxious looks. “We heard about Ernest,” one of them said, which surprised Harry.
“I didn’t think you knew who I was,” he said.
The shopkeeper nodded. “We know all of Draco’s guests! The rumor is that a wolf attacked him, but we’ve never heard of wolves in this area.”
“Huh,” Harry said, and left the shop. He walked with his hands buried in his pockets, avoiding faces. He thought of Malfoy and his stomach twisted. He wished he hadn’t gone on holiday; he wished he was the Auror investigating Ernest’ attack.
He passed by a bakery, smelling delicious mint chocolate. He went inside and bought a slice of a Christmas log. As he ate, he realized the bakery had enchanted garland strewn over the ceiling. It flickered like fairies and dropped disappearing snow. Harry caught the baker’s eye, who waved nervously and glanced at the scar on his forehead. Ah, so there were magical people who lived in town.
He went to the ice rink, hoping to see the girl with the tinsel. She wasn’t there, but he was reminded of his conversation with Malfoy. They had flirted and it’d been hot as hell. Merlin! Why did everything have to be so complicated? He wanted Malfoy. That should be enough.
Noon approached and he rushed back to the house. He couldn’t be late for his Floo with Hermione.
Chapter 12: Tobogganing
The Floo was in a small sitting room near the kitchen. Harry closed the door and cast a silencing charm before sticking his head in the fireplace. Sometimes words leaked out from the flames, and Harry didn’t want to chance being overheard.
Hermione looked frazzled when she answered his Floo. She held a bowl of steaming soup. “Oh, Harry. It’s good to see you.”
He grinned. “It’s good to see you, too. How are the children?”
“They are still little devils.” She laughed. “We all went Tobogganing last weekend.”
“That sounds like a lot of fun. How’s Ron?”
“Good. Exhausted. Overworked. But you understand.”
Her smile vanished. “You looked stressed. Something’s wrong.”
“Yeah, there is something wrong.” He hesitated, not knowing where to start. “Draco Malfoy owns the bed and breakfast.”
She blinked. “What?”
“Yeah, Malfoy. He owns this place and there’s been an attack.”
“There’s been an attack and I can’t wrap my head around it.”
“We’re not twelve anymore.”
“I know that! You’re not letting me explain.”
She ate some of her soup. “Fine. Go on.”
“Ernest was attacked last night. He’s the cook and a good man.”
“I’m not sure. I was inside and the attack happened outside. I heard the scream and Neville found him.”
"Yeah, he works here, too."
“I didn't know he was back from the continent. Where was Malfoy?”
“He was with me.”
Her eyebrows rose. “Oh.”
“You were with Malfoy?”
“Yeah.” He shifted, not liking that she already sensed their romantic connection. “We were, you know, snogging.”
“You and Malfoy?” She laughed.
“Yeah, it’s weird, but I need your help with Ernest.”
“Isn’t the Ministry taking care of it?”
“You aren’t curious about who attacked him?”
“Harry, I’m exhausted.”
“I get it,” he said. “I’m sorry for telling you.”
She sipped from her soup and watched him. “What do you think happened to Ernest?”
“I think he was attacked by a werewolf.”
She choked. “A werewolf?”
“Yeah. This is complicated, Hermione. I wouldn’t waste your time for anything else.”
“You’re not wasting my time.”
“I think someone here is a werewolf. I saw one on the cold moon.”
“Yeah, and I’m shut out of the investigation and I just need to talk through my thoughts.”
“Do you think Malfoy’s hiding something?”
“Then you need to talk to him. That’s where you need to start. Anything else would be a waste of time.”
He sighed and rubbed his forehead. “You’re right.”
“Tell me what he says, then we can figure out your next step. Can I tell Ron?”
“Yeah,” Harry said, “though it might be too early to tell him about Malfoy and me.”
She shrugged. “All right.”
“Thank you, Hermione.” He smiled.
She smiled and glanced at her clock. “Do you mind if I dash?”
“You need to relax. You need to focus on your holiday. Don’t get too caught up with this.”
“I know. Have a good day.”
“You, too.” She ended the Floo.
Harry sat back on his heels and rubbed his face again. He needed to think about a way to approach Malfoy.
Chapter 13: Muggle Christmas Specials
After his chat with Hermione, Harry went to St Mungo’s to visit Ernest.
Ernest looked better. He had more color in his face and he was propped up in bed with a few comfy pillows. Malfoy sat at his bedside. They looked at one another, and Malfoy’s expression was almost apologetic.
“How are you doing, Ern?” Harry asked quietly.
“I want a telly in my room like in Muggle hospital,” he rasped, painful and slow.
Harry wanted to ask him if he remembered anything from the attack, but he supposed it wasn’t the right time. He was Ernest’s mate, not the Auror investigating his attempted murder.
“He was telling me he wants to watch the BBC’s A Christmas Carol.” Malfoy smiled hesitantly.
“Yeah, that’s a brilliant program.” He sat down next to Malfoy, not wanting it to be awkward for Ernest’s sake. “Where’s Nev?”
“You just missed him,” Malfoy said. “I think he went home to work on the garden. He always works on the garden when there’s a lot on his mind.”
Ernest tipped his head back, his eyes fluttering.
“I can see you’re knackered,” Harry said.
Ernest nodded apologetically.
Malfoy stood. “I’ll leave you to sleep.”
“Me too,” Harry said.
They both shook his weak hand and left. Near the Floos, Malfoy touched Harry’s shoulder.
“Do you have a moment, Potter?”
“I wanted to speak to you, too.”
Malfoy looked surprised. “Oh, well. Do you mind talking back at my home?”
“No, lead the way.” Harry felt stilted and awkward, his heart pounding. The truth was that he liked being around Malfoy. He wanted him to be the good guy.
They both Floo’ed back to the bed and breakfast. Harry hesitated in the small room, remembering his discussion with Hermione.
“Does this need to be private?”
“I want it to be,” Malfoy answered quietly.
“Come up to my room then.”
Malfoy arched an eyebrow, and he looked so much like his younger self that Harry had to turn away.
“I don’t mean to suggest anything. I just think it’s a good place for privacy.”
They walked up to his room without speaking. Malfoy greeted Charles with a nod before slipping into Harry’s room. Harry closed the door and turned to gaze at him.
Malfoy looked tired and anxious, but he was still fit as hell. Harry wanted to give him a bath and wrap him up in a duvet. He wanted to ride him slowly, carefully, until they both trembled and groaned with need.
Malfoy cleared his throat. His expression was pinched, his eyes a little wide. “I have to tell you something.”
Harry sucked in a breath. “I’m relieved.”
“You aren’t going to like it.” He hesitated. “Most people don’t like it.”
Harry remained silent.
Stepping closer, Malfoy said, “Not many people know what I’m about to tell you. I’m trusting you because - because I have feelings for you. Perhaps I’ve always had feelings for you.”
“I want to keep your secret, but I can’t if you had anything to do with Ernest’s attack.”
Malfoy nodded. He worried his hands, and there was a flicker of self-hate on his face. “I’m a werewolf. That white wolf you saw on the cold moon? It was me.”
Chapter 14: Seasonal Tradition
Harry stared. He had known, hadn’t he? Malfoy had Remus’ scars. “You’re not registered as a werewolf.”
“I am.” Malfoy smiled lightly. “I just paid off the right people to make it a secret.”
Harry sat down heavily on his bed. This changed things. He had to think about Remus, not Greyback. “You were with me when Ernest was attacked. There was no way you could’ve done it.”
“It also wasn’t a full moon.”
He looked up at Malfoy’s face. Malfoy was hurt, deeply hurt, and he was struggling not to show it.
“I’m being quite the arse, aren’t I?”
Malfoy laughed. “It’s your profession. You want to get to the bottom of this.”
“Yes, but my questions to you have been very cruel.”
Malfoy shrugged. “Most people have bias against werewolves.”
Harry flinched. He didn’t want Malfoy to make excuses for him. “You hate yourself. I can feel it.”
“Do you blame me?” Malfoy was startled by his honesty.
“I don’t want you to hate yourself.”
“I can’t forget what I am. I am a danger to people.”
“Sit down next to me.” He patted the bed.
Hesitating, Malfoy perched on the corner of the bed. He glanced at Harry, then looked away.
“I have questions, but I don’t want to be rude.”
“I will answer what I can,” Malfoy said.
What you can?, Harry wanted to say. “When did this happen to you? How?”
Malfoy gulped. He stared at the wall, his gaze dark and faraway. “It happened a year after the war. I was being unsafe. I was hurting. Father had just died, and I - I was very stupid.”
“But you got through it.”
“Barely.” Malfoy laughed again, and it was hollow. “I always loved Christmas and all its traditions. Always. Even during the war. I thought about asking old Aunt Bellatrix if we could put up a tree. I was a very stupid child.”
Harry suddenly felt an intense urge to protect. He made fists of his hands. “Tell me how it happened.”
“Are you sure?”
Malfoy inhaled swiftly. He dropped his head forward, some of his blond fringe hiding his eyes. “I knew I was bent even back at Hogwarts. I hid it. After the war, I could finally shag men. I wasn’t safe. It’s not like the wizarding world has tons of options and at that time, I was still too scared of Muggles to mess around with them. One night, I followed the wrong man home.”
“Draco,” Harry whispered. Draco looked at him, eyes wide, and Harry kissed him. Draco was stunned, motionless, then he melted against Harry and parted his lips.
They kissed hard, frantic. Harry wanted to convey so much. He didn’t want Draco to hurt anymore.
Draco moaned. He clutched at Harry, trembling, but his hold was strong, commanding. Harry understood. He understood what Draco needed.
“Please,” Draco murmured against his lips.
“Yes,” Harry said, pulling Draco on top of him.
“I would never want Ernest harmed,” Draco said, mouthing over Harry’s neck. “Please believe that I’m good.”
“I believe you.” Harry found his lips again, kissing him with all he had. It had been such a long time since anyone made him feel what Draco was making him feel.
Draco broke away to push up his jumper. He touched his warm stomach with cold hands. “Merlin, you’re an absolute dream. Potter beneath me.”
“I don’t care.” Harry squirmed, needing more. “Just bloody shag me.”
Chapter 15: Work Christmas Party
Draco kissed him again and again. His hands roamed over Harry’s chest, flicking his nipples. Harry hissed and arched.
“Get my clothes off,” Harry said.
“So pushy,” Draco said, teasing.
“This isn’t some stupid work Christmas party. We’re all alone and I want you.”
Tugging together, Harry and Draco wrangled his jumper off, then his jeans. Draco looked amazed as he smoothed his palms over Harry’s stomach. “There’s not a mark on you.”
Harry laughed. “I never heard that one.”
“You’re beautiful,” Draco said, taking a nipple between his teeth.
“Fuck,” Harry said, almost stuttering.
“You like a little pain, eh?”
“A little.” Harry pulled at Draco’s clothes, wanting to feel his bare skin. Draco ignored him as he licked and nibbled his chest. Finally, Harry said, “Please, I want to feel you.”
Draco sat up. His face was flushed, his eyes glittering. “I’m maimed, remember?”
“Rubbish. You’re sexy as hell. Let me see you.”
“I need to warn you about the bite.”
“Where is it?”
Draco touched his thigh. “It’s not . . . sometimes it’s hard to look at.”
“Show me,” Harry said, his hands now on Draco’s belt.
Draco shrugged off his shirt, then moved away to kick away his trousers. He looked at the wall as Harry took in all his bare skin. The scarring on his thigh was red and gnarled, and Harry ran a hand over it.
“I woke up starkers with a werewolf growling at me,” Draco said quietly. “It was a full moon and the arsehole had planned it.”
“Did you know him?”
“No, he just wanted to hurt someone.”
“I’m so sorry, Draco.”
“This is great bedroom talk.”
Harry pulled him down into a kiss, and it quickly turned passionate, their teeth knocking. Harry thrust up and felt Draco’s stiffy. Christ, he wanted this man.
“I want to suck you,” Harry murmured.
Draco closed his eyes and pressed his mouth to Harry’s neck. “I don’t want to come too quickly.”
“Come on, just a taste.”
Draco shook his head. “You have no idea what you do to me.” He kissed down Harry’s stomach to his pants. “Can I?”
“Yeah.” Harry gulped, nervous. This meant so much more than a quick shag. Of course it did. This was Draco Malfoy, a man he’d known for twenty years.
Very gently, Draco pulled down his pants. Harry was hard and dripping, and Draco stared at him for a long moment.
“Merlin,” he whispered, framing his cock with his hands. “Merlin.”
Harry was a bit embarrassed. Nobody had ever looked so mesmerized by his nudity. Draco took him into his mouth, sucking lightly. He groaned and Harry felt it all the way down in his toes.
“Fuck, fuck,” Harry said, yanking at the bedding. He trembled, not wanting to thrust and choke him.
Draco took him deeper, adding more suction, his hand working the shaft. Harry’s eyes rolled up. God, this was exactly what he needed. He felt himself relaxing, his mind turning off, all the tension in his body disappearing. It was terrible what had happened to poor Ernest, but Harry needed this, he needed it.
“Stop holding back,” Draco said, all gravel. “Fuck my mouth.”
Harry buried his hands in his white blond hair. He thrust into his mouth, over and over, watching as his cock slid past those red, red lips. Draco moaned deeply, his eyes fluttering. Harry yanked at his hair and it only made him moan again.
“I’m going to come,” Harry whined, his bollocks tight and ready.
Draco released him with a pop. “No, not yet. I want to fuck you first.”
Chapter 16: Hot Chocolate
“Fuck, Draco,” Harry said, and pulled him up for a kiss. Harry tasted himself on his lips and tongue.
“Merlin, I love it when you say my name.”
Harry kissed each scar on his face. “Draco.”
“Anything, love,” he said, making himself shiver.
Draco slipped off his pants, revealing his cock. Harry stroked it, loving that he felt it stiffen in his palm. “You’re big and slender and perfect.”
Draco laughed. He closed his eyes and thrust into his hand, no rush. “Your hand feels amazing.”
“My arse feels even better.”
“I bet it does.” Draco opened his eyes, and his expression was hungry, wild. He Conjured some lube and slid a finger into Harry. “You really are bent.”
“Is it good enough for you?”
“Merlin, yes.” His eyes slipped closed again and his mouth fell open as he moved his finger in and out.
Harry grabbed his shoulders, needing an anchor. “More. I want more.”
Moaning, Draco added a second finger. He thrust gently, then picked up speed. Harry arched into his finger, wanting him to hit the spot. Draco bit his lip, understanding. When he hit it, Harry groaned and Draco chuckled.
“Now, I need you now.”
Draco trembled as he withdrew his fingers and got into position. He pushed into Harry, gently, staring down at him. Harry felt pinned to the bed; he felt like prey.
“All right?” Draco gasped.
“Yes - fuck. It’s been a while.” His teeth were gritted.
“Shh, I’ll take care of you. Let me.”
Harry twisted. His fingers dug into Draco’s shoulders. “God, move slowly. I need you.”
“Yes.” Draco pulled out, and it was so tight. He thrust back in, shaking more. “Fuck, Harry.”
“Yes,” he said, quickening his thrusts. Harry felt his arse opening to him. He stroked himself, fast, his toes curling.
“You’re gorgeous,” Draco said, groaning. He was close; Harry could tell.
“Come inside me,” Harry murmured. “I want to feel it.”
Draco groaned again. He pumped quickly, erratically. He threw his head back. He was coming, and it was so deep inside Harry. Harry fucked his fist, close, so close -
Draco kissed him deeply. Harry moaned into his mouth as he spilled over his rapid moving fist.
As they came down, Draco, breathing heavily, wrapped his arms around Harry and pressed his face to his neck. Harry buried a weak hand in his soft, soft hair. His eyelids fluttered.
“Fuck,” Harry said, laughing. “I needed that.”
“Are you in pain?”
“Not yet.” Harry laughed again. “But I don’t care. I needed a good shag.”
“Me too,” Draco said, and kissed him again. “Want some hot chocolate?”
“Yeah but after my kip,” Harry said, drowsy.
Chapter 17: Fairy Lights
The next night Harry and Draco put up fairy lights throughout the house.
“I usually have staff help me with this,” Draco said.
Harry shrugged. “I don’t mind. It makes me excited for Christmas.”
Earlier in the day, they had visited Ernest at St Mungo’s. He was in better shape, but he still struggled to speak. Harry wanted to ask him if he remembered anything from the attack, but Draco requested that he wait a few more days.
“He’s been through a great deal,” Draco said. “He will tell the Aurors whatever he remembers.”
The problem was that Harry hadn’t seen Dean and Merkins, and he hadn’t reached out to Hermione again. There was nothing to update her about and he didn't feel comfortable telling her about Draco's lycanthropy.
It took them an hour to string the fairy lights along the main lounge. They worked side-by-side, quietly muttering sticking charms.
“Have you told the Aurors about your . . . condition?” Harry asked.
Draco didn’t answer for a long moment. “No.”
Harry frowned down at the bundle of lights in his hand. “You should. They need to know.”
“Why do they need to know?”
“Because they think a werewolf was involved.”
“Once again, it wasn’t a full moon.”
“Sometimes werewolves can change without a full moon.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. No one would choose to transform just for the hell of it.”
“He was special.”
Harry watched him. He wanted to pull Draco into his arms and kiss him. He hated that this cloud hung over them. “What about Mr Loup?”
“What about him?” Draco snapped.
Harry raised his eyebrows. “He’s a weird bloke. Do you know anything about him?”
“No,” Draco said, teeth gritted. He was quickly losing patience, and Harry didn’t understand why. He’d already explained that he didn’t think Draco attacked Ernest.
“I just can’t shake the feeling that you are still hiding something from me.”
“Just because we’ve fucked doesn’t mean that I have to tell you everything.”
Harry was silent. He didn’t know what to think or feel. He wanted to trust Draco but it was obvious that Draco didn’t trust him.
“Let’s stop talking about it,” Draco said.
Harry dropped the lights into a box. He sighed and rubbed his face. “You’re right, I don’t want to think about this anymore.” He caught Draco’s eye. “I want to suck you off.”
“Yeah. Right now.”
Draco raised an eyebrow.
Chapter 18: House-Elf Choir
There was a cupboard in the nearby hall with a painting of a house-elf choir on the door. Harry pulled Draco into the cupboard and locked it with a spell.
“Are you going to cast a silencing spell, too?”
Harry shook his head. He dropped to his knees. “No, you will need to be very, very quiet.”
Draco groaned softly. There was very little light in the cupboard, and Harry wished he could see his flushed cheeks, his eyes dark with arousal.
“Unbutton your trousers. Let me see you,” Harry whispered.
“Dirty boy.” Draco’s voice was low and almost dangerous, but his hands shook a little as he pulled his cock out.
“Already hard for me,” Harry purred, and took Draco into his mouth. He didn’t waste time. He sucked hard and bobbed his head fast. Draco had to stuff a fist into his mouth to muffle his cry.
Harry withdrew. “You’ll need to be more quiet or else you won’t get to come in my mouth.”
“Sod it,” Draco said, “I’m the owner.” He buried his hands into Harry’s hair and thrust past his lips. Harry moaned deeply and surrendered, relaxing his neck, letting Draco control his head.
Draco thrust over and over, swearing, muttering. His thighs shook and his bollocks were warm and Harry wanted to taste his come.
“Please,” Harry said, backing away, his throat burning. “I want you to come on my tongue.”
“Merlin.” Draco dragged his fingers through his wild hair. “You drive me mad.”
“In a good way?”
“Mostly.” Draco laughed. He leaned down to kiss Harry, then groaned. “I can taste myself on you.”
“Good.” Harry licked up his shaft and tongued his soft head. He stroked him slow and steady, then sucked him deep into his mouth. He bobbed his head again and Draco tightened his fingers.
Harry understood. He quickened his movement, sucking harder. Draco’s fingers hurt as he came, controlling Harry’s head, his moans muffled but loud enough for someone in the hall to hear.
Harry stuffed his hand into his pants, remembering his own arousal. He came as he licked Draco clean.
Draco pulled him to his feet and kissed him. “You’re amazing.”
“Yes,” Harry said, trying to steady himself. He cleaned them up with a spell. “Do you think Mr Loup heard us?” He laughed at the thought.
“No,” Draco said drowsily. “He isn’t a werewolf like me.”
“How do you know?”
“Because I can tell who’s one and who isn’t. I can smell it on them.”
Harry paused. “Is anyone else here a werewolf?”
“I can’t tell you.”
Harry stepped back and collided with the wall. “Why not?”
“Because it’s not my secret to tell.”
Making sure he was all buttoned up, Harry opened the door and stepped into the hall, which was too bright after the gloom of the cupboard. “This is bigger than secrets. What if the person who attacked Ernest is thinking about attacking another?”
“Don’t be ridiculous.” Draco looked serious and hurt. “Is this why you sucked me off? To ask me questions when my defenses were down?”
“No,” Harry said. “I just can’t stop thinking about the attack.”
“It sure feels like this was planned.” Draco pushed past him. Harry wanted to reach out to him, but he didn’t. He let Draco walk away.
Chapter 19: Secret Santa
“So,” Hermione said, flames licking her face. She examined his face, frowning. “Something’s changed. You’ve changed.”
Harry hesitated. It was the next afternoon and he was crouched in front of the fireplace with a silencing charm up. “Draco and I are shagging.”
“Yeah, I call him Draco now.”
“He thinks I’m a sod.”
“What did you do?”
“He thinks I’m only shagging him so he will answer my questions about the attack.”
“Oh, Harry.” She sighed. “How is the man who was attacked? Ernest?”
“I visited him this morning. He’s better. A lot better. Dean and Merkins will be calling on him any day now.”
“He still hasn’t given his testimony?”
“Not to my knowledge.”
She was frowning again. “What else? There’s something more, I can tell.”
“I can’t tell you. It’s not my secret to tell.”
She nodded. “Did you find out that someone there is your werewolf?”
“Yes, and maybe more.”
“I’m afraid there will be another attack.”
“Why?” Her eyes were wide.
“Because I can feel it. I’ve been solving mysteries for decades. I can feel that all is not well.”
“But - you’re shagging Malfoy. You should be blissful, happy. You shouldn’t be worrying about anything.”
“Exactly but . . . these things just don’t go away, do they? Someone is hiding among us. Someone violent.”
“And it’s not Malfoy?”
“No, I don’t think so.”
"And you don't think it could be someone random? Someone from town?"
"It could be."
“I can come up there this weekend. Help you ask questions. We can buy our Secret Santa presents together.”
“Oh, damn. I forgot.”
“I want to forget.” She sighed. “I don’t know why Molly insists on doing Secret Santa.”
“Too many in-laws.” He laughed.
“Does Saturday work for you? The sleuth in me needs some practice.”
“Yes, it works. Will you bring Ron?”
“No! He’s going to watch the children.”
Harry laughed. “Okay. Till Saturday.”
“Yes, goodbye.” She smirked. “Say hello to Malfoy for me.”
“Yeah, sure. If he will speak to me."
Chapter 20: House Guests
After his chat with Hermione, Harry wandered into the main lounge and found Mark and Maggie by the fire.
“What’s the policy on house guests?” he asked.
“How long will they stay with you?” Maggie said.
“Not long. Probably an afternoon.”
“That’s not really a guest, is it? More like a visitor.”
“Want to play a game of chess, Harry?” Mark said.
“Sure.” Harry plopped down in the chair opposite him. He sighed. “Have any of you seen Draco today?”
“He’s visiting Ernest,” Maggie said.
“It’s terrible what happened to him,” Mark said quietly.
“Yeah.” Harry rubbed his forehead and made his first move on the chessboard. “I hope he recovers soon.”
“Yes, we both do,” Maggie said, then she hesitated. “Have you heard any update? About . . . you know.”
“Even though you’re an Auror?”
“It’s not my investigation. I’m also personally involved. It wouldn’t be right for me to know certain things.”
“I guess that makes sense.”
Mr Loup emerged from upstairs. He passed through the lounge to the back door, glaring at them.
“Hello, sir,” Maggie said. Mr Loup growled a reply.
“He doesn’t seem too worried about Ernest, does he?” Harry said.
“No, he’s barely mentioned it,” Maggie said.
“We don’t see him around much.” Mark took out one of Harry’s knights. “Not that we care that much. He’s a weird bloke who likes his solitude.”
“Don’t say that too loudly. He might hear you!”
“Do either of you have any . . . ideas about the attack?” Harry said quietly.
Mark and Maggie glanced at each other. There was a pause, then Maggie said, “We do.”
“Please tell me.”
“I think it was Mr Loup,” Mark said.
“Really?” Harry’s eyebrows went up.
“Yeah, he always hated Ernest. He told me himself.”
“How do you think he did it? The wound looked like a bite.”
“A spell maybe,” Mark said.
“I admit there is something off about Mr Loup,” Maggie said.
“I will keep this in mind.” Harry moved another pawn on the board. “You know my house guest? She’s coming down on Saturday to help me ask some questions.”
Maggie frowned. “But I thought you weren’t part of the investigation?”
“I’m not, but I can still ask around. Maybe I will uncover something the other Aurors don’t know about.”
“Is it true you saw a werewolf?” Mark said.
“Yeah.” Harry didn’t know if they knew about Draco’s condition.
“Do you think there are other werewolves?” Mark said.
“Yeah, I do.” Harry tilted his head. “Do you think there are others?”
Maggie and Mark looked at each other again. “No, we don’t think there are other werewolves,” Maggie said.
“One is enough.” Mark laughed but it didn’t reach his eyes. He looked worried.
Chapter 21: Baby's First Christmas
In the evening, Harry was outside in the dark garden, waiting for Draco. He was still determined to speak to him, but Draco hadn’t come back from visiting Ernest at St Mungo’s. Harry had tried to keep his rising fear at bay during dinner, but now he couldn’t deny that he was afraid that something had happened.
Mark and Maggie’s suspicions had gotten to him, and he was on alert more than ever. He wanted to confront Mr Loup, ask him why he was so disheveled, why he was so utterly wolfish, but he had no proof other than hearsay. He needed proof before he started pointing fingers.
He walked the edge of the forest, his feet crushing the feathery snow. He squinted through the branches, telling himself he was being silly. He wasn’t going to find Draco bleeding out. Draco was a grown man. He could do whatever he wanted with his time.
The night was cool and very dark, and it reminded him of his first Christmas with Teddy. It was right after the war, and Andromeda had been nice enough to invite Harry over for a roast and presents. Even then, Teddy’s hair had been crazy, changing colors and textures, his baby laugh so damn infectious. He remembered Andromeda telling him that Draco had visited Teddy the day before, and he’d been surprised that Malfoy had taken an interest in a cousin whose father was a werewolf.
He was staring up at the starry sky when he heard the growling. He raised his wand, immediately on alert. The growling came from the trees, but it was too dark to see through the shadowy foliage. The growling grew louder.
Harry stepped back, his heart thumping. Then he heard footsteps, not from a human. It sounded like paws crunching on dead leaves and thick snow.
There was sudden movement on his right. He swerved to protect himself, but he was too slow. A gigantic werewolf lunged at him. He yelled a garbled spell and threw his arms up to shield himself. The werewolf sank its enormous teeth in his shoulder.
Chapter 22: First Christmas Together
The werewolf and Harry fell to the ground. He felt the teeth sink deeper and tear his flesh as they struggled. The pain was blinding, and all Harry was aware of was musky fur, hot saliva, and sharp, sharp things cutting into him.
He wasn’t going to die. He refused. Not after everything he’d been through. Not before he had his first Christmas with Draco.
He wrangled his arm away from the wolf, then dug his thumb into its yellow eye. The wolf yelped and tore away. His magic had made his thumb heat up like red-hot poker, and now the wolf was bleeding severely from its right eye.
Rolling away, Harry crawled to his feet. He threw an immobilizing charm at the wolf and ran deeper into the forest. He didn’t want to bring the animal closer to the house and endanger others. The trees were thick and enormous, their long branches cutting his face, cracking his eyeglasses. He heard the wolf chase him, barking and growling. He tried to Hex it without slowing down, but he missed every time.
He didn’t understand. There was no full moon. There shouldn’t be any werewolves out. He glanced back. The large brown wolf was too big and angular to be non-magical. He’d seen Remus as a werewolf. He knew what they looked like.
A large root tripped him up and he fell down. He hit his head on something terribly hard, like a rock, and the wolf overtook him.
Chapter 23: Last Minute Shopping
When Harry woke up, he was on a hard floor and everything was dark and blurry. His glasses and wand were gone. He sat up and muffled a cry. The wound on his shoulder still bled a little, and the pain was excruciating.
He was in some sort of one-room cabin. He touched the wall, feeling bark and cold. He saw indistinct furniture. Some of it looked broken, chewed up.
“Hello?” he said, but nothing answered.
He sighed and gingerly leaned back on the wall. He wondered what everyone else was doing. People who weren’t Aurors and didn’t have to deal with werewolves. They were probably doing some last minute shopping and anticipating Christmas.
He didn’t want to have any worries. He just wanted to be with Draco, safe and warm. Draco. It hurt to think of him.
Footsteps echoed from outside. Someone came in through the door and set something heavy down, like a bag.
“Who’s there?” Harry called, wishing he had his wand.
“You don’t get to know,” answered a rough, male voice.
Harry frowned. The voice sounded familiar, but he couldn’t place it. “What do you want from me?”
“I want you stop meddling. I want you to leave us alone.”
“Who are you talking about?”
“I’m talking about the house. I’m talking about everyone.”
Harry hesitated. “Do you know Draco?”
The man snorted. “Of course I know Draco.”
“Who are you?”
“Maybe I’m Mr Loup.”
Harry frowned. “I know you, don’t I?”
“Why should I tell you?”
Harry gulped. “What are you going to do to me?”
The man moved closer. “I don’t know yet. I’m desperate, though. I’m desperate to do anything.”
“Are you a werewolf?”
“No, I just pretended to be one when I bit you.”
“It’s not a full moon. I don’t understand.”
“I don’t expect you to understand.”
“Are you in trouble?” Harry said. “I can help you if you’re in trouble.”
“My whole life is trouble. Ever since I became a monster.”
Harry tried to stand, but the man pressed a wand to his throat.
“Don’t move. I will kill you.”
Harry slumped back down, his mind racing. “Is this because of who I am?”
The man laughed. “I don’t care about who you are. You could be the Minister himself and I would’ve still attacked you. I just want to be left alone. I just want some peace.”
“Did you attack Ernest?”
“That - that was an accident.”
“How? What happened?”
The man paced, his heavy footsteps echoing in the room. “I - sometimes I can’t control it. I can’t control what Greyback did to me.”
“Merlin, I hate that bloke. I wish it had been me who killed him.”
“Were you in the war?”
“No, I was too young. Only a child.”
Harry slowed his breathing. He had to think. He had to piece it all together. “How do you know Draco?”
“Draco was kind to me. He was the only person to give me a chance.”
“He won’t like what you’ve done to me. What you’ve done to Ernest.”
“That doesn’t matter. He will never find out. He can’t. That’s why I have to get rid of you.”
Harry gulped again. Maybe he could try Summoning his wand. He was too weak to run fast or far. “Murder is never the only option. You don’t sound like an evil man.”
“Of course I’m evil. I’ve been evil since Greyback bit me.”
“What else did he do to you?” Harry asked quietly.
The man stepped even closer. “He cursed me. He tried to make me like him.”
“More than a werewolf.”
“Oh,” Harry said. “I’m sorry that happened to you.”
“Yeah, me too.” The man crouched down beside Harry. “We are alike, you know. We both know -”
Harry lunged at him, toppling him over. He punched him hard in the face, stifling a yelp as he felt his wound rip just a little more. The man roared and grappled for his wand. Harry dug both of his thumbs into the man’s eyes, then grabbed the man’s wand.
“Accio Harry Potter’s wand!” Harry said, and his wand flew into his hand. He staggered to his feet. He thought to immobilize the man with ropes, but it was no use: the man was morphing back into a werewolf.
Harry pressed his back to the door. He had to kill the werewolf. Most curses just bounced off magical creatures and he was too weak to outrun it.
The werewolf growled at him, showing his large teeth.
“Don’t come any closer. I will be forced to hurt you!”
The werewolf growled even louder. It stepped forward, spittle dripping from its gums.
“Protego!” Harry yelled as the werewolf lunged. Harry threw himself out of the way, then yelled, “Avada Kedavra!”
He wasn’t a child anymore. He was able to kill when he had no other choice.
Chapter 24: Stuffing Stockings
“Accio Harry Potter’s glasses.”
Trembling, Harry caught his glasses in the air. He slid them on, then cast a lumos. He lowered his wand to the body on the floor and gasped.
It was Mark.
He stared and stared, not believing. Mark was the attacker, the violent werewolf? He had been so happy, so sincere.
Harry shook even more. His adrenaline from the fight was disappearing, and pain from the wound on his shoulder flooded his body. He was in shock; he was going to lose consciousness.
He Conjured his Patronus and gave it a message for Dean. “I’m in the forest near Draco’s house. Follow my stag.” Then he sat down on the hard floor and forced himself to look at Mark’s body.
It hadn’t been his first time killing, but this was more personal. He had known Mark, or at least he thought he’d known him.
When Dean and the other Aurors arrived, Harry was unconscious. His eyes fluttered open as he was gently placed on a magical stretcher.
“Is Draco here?” he muttered.
“No, just relax,” Dean said. “Think of wonderful stocking stuffers.”
“Someone tell Draco where I am. Tell him what happened.”
Harry turned his face away, not wanting to show Dean his tears. “I had no other choice.”
“We know. It’s not your fault.”
“I should have done more.”
“No, we should have done more.” Dean patted his hand. “You just sleep now. You will be at St Mungo’s shortly.”
Chapter 25: Christmas Dinner with Friends
Harry didn’t remember much from his stay at St Mungo’s. There were a lot of hurried healers and faceless encouragements. There was pain and panic and a terrible sense of too late. He was afraid to ask questions.
When Hermione and Ron arrived, Harry had just woken up from a long sleep. He peered at the corners of the room for Draco but didn’t see him.
Hermione was pale and worried, and Ron looked like he would sick up.
“Oh, Harry,” she whispered, squeezing his hand.
“Hello, mate,” Ron said.
Harry smiled weakly. “Hello.”
“I had no idea! I wished I had sensed the danger. Of course there was danger. I’ve been so stupid.” Hermione blinked back tears.
“We were all stupid,” Harry croaked. “I should have done more. Maybe then I could’ve saved Mark.”
“No,” she said, jerking her head. “He was responsible for his own actions. He was responsible for his death.”
“He tried to kill you,” Ron said.
“He was Greyback’s victim. He didn’t want to be a werewolf.” Harry looked up at the ceiling. “I’m afraid to be one, too.”
“You aren’t going to be a werewolf!” Hermione said.
“How do you know?”
“Because he didn’t bite you during a full moon. Because Greyback had developed a curse that was separate from lycanthropy.”
“Spent some time in the library, did you?” Harry smiled again.
“I haven’t seen her in days,” Ron said. “She was worried about you. We all were.”
Harry sighed and laid back on his pillow. He wouldn’t believe he was safe until a healer confirmed it. “I just want to sleep and dream of Christmas dinner with friends.”
“And Malfoy?” Ron said, smirking.
“Yes, but I don’t know where he’s been.”
“He was here when we arrived. We passed him in the lobby,” Hermione said.
“But that doesn’t make any sense.” Harry frowned. “Why would he leave right when I was waking up?”
Ron shrugged. “Maybe he had errands to run.”
Dean and Merkins appeared in the doorway.
“Sorry to interrupt,” Dean said, looking tired. “How are you?”
“You were brave,” Merkins said. “You did the right thing.”
Dean gave Harry a soft smile. “Mind if we get your initial statement? It doesn’t have to be long.”
“Okay.” Harry proceeded to tell them what happened. He only teared up a few times.
Chapter 26: Feeding the Less Fortunate
“Hello,” Draco said from the doorway.
Harry looked up from his conversation with Ron and Hermione. It was a few minutes after Dean and Merkins left, and he’d been wondering if Draco was ever coming back.
“Hi,” he breathed, knowing his lovesick expression was embarrassing. Ron coughed.
Draco approached the bed. “Are you all done with speaking to Thomas and the other Auror bloke?”
“Yes, but he’s not all done speaking to us,” Ron said. Hermione elbowed him.
“Sorry, Malfoy,” she said, grinning uncomfortably. “Old habits die hard.”
“What?” Ron’s face was red. “It sounded like he knew this Mark person and he did nothing to stop him from nearly killing Harry!”
Draco flinched. He sucked in a loud breath and looked down at his clasped hands. “I’m sorry. I hate myself for not doing more.”
Sighing, Hermione glanced from Harry to Draco. “What did you know, Malfoy? Did you know that Mark was cursed?”
Hermione looked stunned. “You knew and you kept it to yourself? How could you?”
Draco’s face was flushed. “Mark was my friend! I trusted him! He swore he had nothing to with Ernest’s attack. In the past, other people with the curse had come to the house to intimidate us. There was a chance that someone else had done it.”
She covered her mouth. “You knew there were others and you didn’t tell the Aurors? Do you realize how many people you put at risk?”
“I put people at risk for just existing!” Draco said.
“Hermione,” Harry said quietly. “Let me talk to him alone.”
“Yes, Granger,” Draco said snottily. “Go feed the less fortunate or something since you are such a damn angel.”
“Hey!” Ron said, plucking his wand from his pocket. “Don’t talk to my wife like that!”
Harry raised his hands. “Please! I need to talk to Draco alone.”
“I apologize,” Draco said through gritted teeth, his eyes shining. “I lost my temper.”
Hermione and Ron went to the door. “My name is Granger-Weasley now,” she said. “Remember thar for the next time you want to insult me.” They left.
Draco dropped into the chair beside Harry’s bed. He clasped Harry’s hands. “I’m so sorry. I’ve fucked everything up.”
Harry shook his head. “I’m having a hard time understanding. Why didn’t you just tell me about Mark?”
Draco turned away. He was gritting his teeth again and there were tears streaming down his face. “I’m so stupid. I never wanted this to happen to you.”
“Did everyone know about Mark?”
“Yes, all the employees. I knew Greyback had cursed him. I knew he was struggling to feed himself. I just wanted to help him by giving him a job.”
“Did you know the curse made him violent?”
“Not in the beginning.”
“Oh, Draco.” Harry took his hands away. “I trusted you.” He had trusted all of them.
Draco hid his face in his hands. He didn’t speak for a long while. “This is all my fault. You and Ernest. Mark’s death. It’s all my fault.”
Harry looked away. He needed time to think. He needed time to process everything. He didn’t want to see Draco in pain. He didn’t want to see him despair. But he also didn’t understand why Draco hadn’t told the Aurors the truth.
“I’m exhausted.” Harry fell back on his pillows. “Will you hold my hand while I fall asleep?”
Draco glanced at him with red eyes. “You still want me to touch you?”
Draco sighed heavily. He took Harry’s hand and kissed it. “I’m so relieved that you’re okay. How is your injury? Does it hurt?”
“I’m on enough pain potion to knock out an elephant.” He smiled weakly.
“Good, good.” Draco held his hand as he drifted off.
Chapter 27: Work Interferes with Plans
Harry spent two days in hospital. Ron and Hermione were there when he was released.
“Where’s the children?” he asked, wincing as he dragged on a coat.
“They are with Molly,” Hermione said.
Ron looked at him worriedly. “Do you want to go back to that house? Hermione and I could get your belongings for you while you head back to your flat.”
“No, I want to return. I want to see everyone.”
“Before you go home?” Ron said.
Harry sighed. “I don’t know if I want to go home yet.”
This made Ron groan and Hermione’s eyes to widen. Hermione began to speak: “Are you sure -”
Neville burst into the room, panting. His hair was messy and he looked like he hadn't slept in a day. “Harry! Merlin! I’m so sorry I didn’t come earlier.”
“I was wondering why you hadn’t visited.” He tried to hide the hurt in his voice.
“The Aurors wouldn’t leave us alone! We actually had to be interviewed at the Ministry.”
“That makes sense,” Harry said quietly. “Someone died.”
Neville’s face fell. “You’re right. I’m a horrible friend. Possibly a horrible person.”
“Damn, Neville,” Ron said. “I expect Malfoy to be a liar, but I never thought you’d be one.”
“You didn’t know Mark. You didn’t know what he had gone through.”
“I can understand why you didn’t tell me,” Harry said, “but it’s a crime to lie to the Aurors.”
“I thought the Aurors already knew about Mark and Draco,” Neville said.
Harry frowned. “I don’t know. I guess I don’t know much anymore.” He glanced at the door. “I thought Draco would be here.”
“He’s tied up at the house. Sometimes work interferes with plans.”
“Tell me about it,” Harry muttered.
“Come back to the house with me.” Neville looked at all three of them. “Ernest is out of hospital, too. He wants to make dinner for everyone.”
Ron and Hermione looked at Harry for a long time, then Ron said, “All right. We will come back for dinner.”
As they left, Harry squeezed Hermione’s shoulder and whispered, “Thank you.”
He wanted his best mates to like Draco, to forgive him. He also wanted to forgive Draco, too.
Chapter 28: Puppies
Harry’s heart was beating fast when they appeared at the front door of Draco’s bed and breakfast. He was nervous to see Draco again. He was nervous to face Maggie. He hoped Ernest was better.
Neville led them into the lounge, which still twinkled with fairy lights. There were more Christmas trees up and the fireplace roared with warmth and bittersweet cheer. The atmosphere was festive but Harry couldn’t enjoy it.
“Is that you, Nev?” Draco said, emerging from the kitchen. He was wearing an apron. He stopped in his tracks. “Oh.”
“I bought Ron and Hermione for dinner. I hope you don’t mind,” Harry said.
“Of course I don’t mind,” Draco said, but his cheeks were a little pink. He had a hard time making eye-contact with them. “I was just helping Ernest in the kitchen. He’s determined to make pasties.”
“Do you need help?” Harry asked.
“No,” Neville said.
“Absolutely not,” Draco echoed.
Neville smiled. “You’re guests. Just sit down and we’ll bring out some eggnog.”
“This is fun,” Hermione said, sitting by the fire.
“Do I hear puppies?” Ron said.
“No?” Harry listened closely, not hearing anything. Ron shrugged and plopped down next to Hermione.
Neville came back to give them some eggnog in mistletoe glasses. Harry took a sip and sighed.
“This is delicious,” Harry said.
“Thanks,” Neville said. “I need to get back into the kitchen. Do you mind?”
“Nope.” Ron gulped his eggnog.
Hermione shook her head. “You know there’s whiskey in there?”
Ron burped. “Yeah.”
“Merlin.” Hermione gazed around the lounge, her smile turning faint. “So this was where Mark lived and worked?”
Harry nodded. “I don’t know if he lived here, but he did a lot of work for Draco.”
“It’s a strange place for a violent person to work,” she said.
“He hid it well. He was actually quite nice.”
“How do you feel about it? You’re the one who had to . . . you know,” she said.
Harry stared down at his feet. He sipped his drink. “I don’t know. I hate that I had to do that. I also just want to put it all behind me.”
“You don’t think they should face consequences for lying to the Aurors?” Ron said, looking confused.
“This is Neville we’re talking about,” Harry said. “And I - I want to believe that Draco thought he was doing the right thing.”
“I think you should return home,” Ron said. “Get some perspective.”
Hermione nodded. “Yeah, take a few weeks to wrap your head around everything. Then you can decide what you want to do next. If you want to date Malfoy.”
“Yeah.” He stood, feeling steady for the first time since the attack. “Let me go up to my room to get my things.”
Chapter 29: Kitchen Disaster
Harry was on his way down with his luggage when Draco stopped him.
“Can I speak to you outside?” Draco said, avoiding his gaze.
“Yes,” Harry said, and spoke to Ron and Hermione. “Wait for me. It will only be a moment.” They nodded, not looking thrilled about waiting.
He silently followed Draco to the garden. It was cold and the sky was thick with unfallen snow. He rubbed his hands together and cast a warming charm.
“I meant to meet you at the hospital,” Draco said quietly. “Did Nev tell you?”
“Yes,” Harry said.
Draco sighed and stared at the dark trees. “What happened to you is my fault. I know that.”
Harry remained silent.
“What happened to Ernest is my fault, too. I - I want you to know that I’m not a bad person.”
“You lied to me.”
Draco hung his head. “I know.”
“I asked you about werewolves transforming on nights with no full moons. You practically laughed at me.”
“I was protecting Mark. I was protecting myself.”
Harry closed his eyes for moment. He knew the right thing to do was to walk away, but he couldn’t make a proper decision when all he wanted was to shag Draco.
“You lied to the Ministry. You put your neighbors at risk.”
Harry cocked his head. “Do you expect me to vouch for you? Make excuses? Dean and Merkins will decide if they want to go after you for lying.”
Draco made a sudden movement with his hand. “I don’t care about that. I don’t even care if I go to Azkaban. My priorities now are Maggie and Ernest and you.”
“She has refused to see us. I fear for her health. Like us, she blames herself for protecting Mark.”
“Dean and Merkins might want to get her for obstruction, too.”
“It would be a mistake if they did. We all do stupid things for loved ones.” Draco glared up at the sky. “The excuses I made for my father when he was alive . . .”
“How does Ernest feel about it all?”
Draco sucked in a breath. “I don’t want to speak for him, but I know he cared deeply for Mark and Maggie. He would never want to see her in Azkaban because she was protecting her brother.”
“Did Ernest know it was Mark that attacked him?”
“I think so.” Draco shook his head. “I think he knew and he didn’t say anything.”
Harry touched his warm neck, his cold cheek. Draco turned to him in surprise.
“I was one of the victims too and I don’t think anyone should spend time in Azkaban for what Mark did. He was a broken man. He was cursed by a monster.”
“Harry,” Draco said, his voice breaking. Harry dragged him into a kiss, their lips cold. Draco groaned and wrapped his arms around him. They snogged for a long moment before Draco withdrew. “You have no business forgiving me. I hate myself for not protecting you. I was so stupid to not be here that day.”
“What were you doing?”
Draco shook his head. “I was buying your Christmas present . . . with Mother’s help.”
“It was a mistake to tell her about you.”
Harry’s eyes widened. “You told her that we were involved?”
Draco looked away, nervous. “Are we still . . .? Is there any chance that we could still be . . . together?”
Before he could answer, Neville burst into the garden. “Draco! Come quick! It’s a kitchen disaster!”
Dark smoke bellowed out of the kitchen window.
Chapter 30: Ice Skating
Harry and Draco rushed into the kitchen. Hermione and Ron were already in there, battling a fire on the cooker, their wands shooting streams of water.
“Protego!” Neville yelled, and encased the cooker in a protective bubble.
Ernest stood in the corner, his hand covering his mouth, his face pale.
Harry and Draco began shooting water at the fire as well, and soon the fire was out but the cooker was drenched, the floor slippery.
“I’m sorry,” Ernest moaned. “I was just trying to do something nice.”
“It’s all right,” Draco said. “The fire’s out. We are all safe.”
“Can dinner be saved?” Ron asked, still panting.
“Yes, I think so.” Neville waved his wand and the large serving dishes of pasties flew from the counter into the dining room. “Let’s all eat. I won’t take no for an answer.”
Draco helped Ernest to his feet. “Be careful. Walking on a wet floor is like ice skating.”
“Ready to go?” Hermione asked Harry.
“Will you both stay for dinner first?”
“Okay,” Ron said immediately. “I’m hungry.”
“Oh, all right.” Hermione followed them into the dining room.
Harry sat down next to Draco and Ernest. He piled his plate with beef pasties.
“Eat up, eat up,” Ernest said, voice still a little raspy.
“Thank you,” Hermione said kindly.
Ron gobbled up a pasty in two bites. “These are great!”
“Your cottage is quite charming,” Hermione said to Draco, and it surprised Harry that she was talking to him.
“Thank you.” Draco smiled hesitantly. “You are welcome to stay anytime.”
Ron laughed. “For how many Galleons?”
Draco shook his head. “I could never take your money. Harry’s friends are always welcome.”
“Hey!” Harry said. “I’m still paying!”
“I said your friends. I didn’t say you.” Draco smirked.
“Draco is actually quite giving,” Neville said. “He gave us all jobs when we needed one.”
Hermione frowned. “I didn’t know you struggled to find work.”
“Life was hard after I came back to Britain. I can never repay Draco for the opportunity he gave me.”
“I feel the same way,” Ernest said, though he looked sad. “Maggie should be here.”
“Is she still held up in her cabin?”
“She lives in a cabin?” Harry said, slightly alarmed.
“A different cabin,” Draco said. “Not the one . . . well, you know.”
Draco stood. “I will see if she wants to join us. If we can manage to forgive ourselves, then she should too.” He left.
“Yes, I would like to meet her.” Hermione carefully cut her pasty. “I would like to hear her side of things.”
“Don’t push her if she doesn’t want to talk,” Harry said.
“Of course,” Hermione said, though she looked thoughtful. “We don’t have to talk about anything difficult if she refuses. We can talk about ice skating or baking biscuits instead.”
“Sounds riveting.” Ron kissed her cheek.
Harry looked out of the snowy window, waiting for Draco to return.
Draco returned a few minutes later with Maggie. She looked pale and tired, and Harry was afraid for her health.
“Mags!” Ernest said, standing with effort. “Come sit down. Have a pasty.”
“I’m not very hungry, but thank you.” She took the seat next to Hermione, then stared down at her empty plate.
“It’s nice to meet you. I’m Hermione.”
Maggie glanced at her. “It’s nice to meet you, too. I’m sure you know all about me.”
“I know that you are Mark’s sister,” Hermione said.
Maggie started to cry softly. “Yeah, I am. I was. He’s dead now. Did you know?”
“Yes,” Hermione said gently.
“He had his problems, but he was very kind.”
“I can imagine.”
Ron watched them with concern. He nudged Hermione. “How about we talk about something else?”
“No, wait.” Maggie wiped her eyes. “There’s a reason why I agreed to come here tonight. I want to explain my side of things.”
“There’s no need to explain,” Ernest said.
Maggie was looking at Harry. “We lied to you. We put you and others in danger. I’m terribly sorry for that. The decision to protect my brother was a hard one. He was . . . broken, I know. At the end, he wasn’t himself. He was attacked by Greyback when he was just fifteen.”
“Merlin,” Ron said softly.
“Our parents did our best to protect him, but when they passed away from cancer, we had no money, no home, no food,” Maggie said. “I worked hard, so hard, but it still wasn’t enough to support us. We needed to find an employer who understood Mark’s predicament. There were days when he couldn’t work because of the curse and we needed someone who understood this.”
“You both were very brave,” Neville said.
“It’s a monstrous curse,” Hermione said. “I read all about it during my research. Greyback successfully cursed twenty people before his death. Its symptoms are worse at night. Makes them violent. Makes them lose their humanity. Makes them want to turn into werewolves. But a few were able to fight it.”
Maggie nodded. “For a few years, Mark was able to fight it.” She smiled teary-eyed at Draco. “With Draco’s help, Mark was able to do good work and to focus on managing the curse. We had those good years because of him and I will always be grateful.”
“But then things started to change,” Harry said quietly.
“Yes, but Mark became so secretive. I didn’t know where he went at night. None of us did. But now we know that he went to that abandoned cabin to be alone, to succumb to the curse.”
“When did other people with the curse show up here?” Harry said.
Maggie thought hard. “Almost a year ago. They wanted money because they were desperate. I didn’t think anything of it until someone attacked Ernest.”
At the mention of his name, Ernest knocked his fist into the table. “You don’t have to explain anything to me! I know Mark had his demons. I know he would never have harmed me if he had been in control of himself. I survived. That’s all that matters.”
“You need to tell all of this to the Aurors,” Harry said to Maggie.
“Yes, I know.”
Harry let himself stare at Draco. He was tired of questioning him, not believing him. He just wanted to be with him.
Ron and Hermione looked at each other. They were having a silent conversation. Finally, they stood.
“Thank you for dinner,” Hermione said. “We need to hurry off. Lots of last minute Christmas shopping still left to do.”
Harry walked them to the door. He hugged them both. “Thank you for understanding.”
“Love makes us stupid sometimes,” Hermione said.
“I reckon you can take care of yourself.” Ron wagged a finger at him. “But don’t forget about my mum’s Secret Santa!”
“Fuck.” Harry laughed. “I’ll try not to.”
When they left, he turned and found Draco waiting for him. He felt his cheeks warm. Draco was just so damn fit.
“I was hoping we could sneak off,” Draco said easily, but his eyes looked worried.
“Are you afraid I’ll say no?”
“Yes,” Draco said softly. “I want you. I want you to be mine.”
Harry came closer. He hooked a finger in Draco’s belt hoop. “I am yours.”
Draco sucked in a breath. “Even though I’m a werewolf?”
“Even though I lied to you?”
“Yes.” Harry narrowed his eyes. “Just don’t lie to me again.”
“I won’t.” Draco kissed him, slow and soft. Harry moaned and parted his lips, and suddenly the kiss was hard, passionate. Harry tugged on his shirt.
“Let’s go up to my room.”
At his room door, Harry paused to wave at Charles Merry. “Having a good night?”
“Happy Christmas!” Charles said, then clutched his stomach. “Ho, ho, ho!”
They went inside his room and kicked the door shut. Draco dragged him onto the bed.
“Please,” Harry said, tearing at his clothes. “I need you.”
“Tell me if you’re in pain. Tell me if I will hurt you.”
“Do anything.” Harry found his lips, kissing and nibbling.
Draco removed their clothes, his hands becoming gentle around Harry’s healing shoulder.
“Look at all these cuts,” Draco murmured, then he kissed each one.
“God, please.” Harry squirmed underneath his warm mouth.
“Shh, let me take care of you. Let me try to make it up to you.” Draco kissed down his bare stomach, then mouthed over his trembling thighs. Harry was hard and weeping, and his cock jerked when Draco’s mouth got close.
“Draco,” Harry whispered.
He took Harry into his mouth, sucking and running his tongue along his throbbing shaft. Harry cried out. He buried his hands in his soft blond hair.
“Oh, fuck.” Harry thrust, not able to stop himself. Draco took him deeper, deeper, until Harry was in his throat. Harry fucked his throat, doing his best to be gentle, but he almost lost himself in the warm pleasure.
Draco came up. He kissed Harry on the lips, and Harry tasted himself. “Let me fuck you.”
“Yes,” Harry hissed, and widened his legs.
Draco Conjured some lube and fingered Harry open, twisting, curling. Harry thrashed; he clawed at his shoulders, needing more.
“Just fuck me, just -”
“Yes, yes.” Draco pushed into him, trembling. “Merlin.”
Harry wrapped his legs around him. “Please. Harder.”
Moaning, Draco buried his face in his neck, then began to fuck him, hard and steady. He hit his prostate and Harry cried out. He needed this, Merlin, he needed this. He’d been through so much, from his work to Mark’s attack, and he felt himself crying. He needed this released. He’d killed that poor man. He’d ended his life, and Harry didn’t know if he would ever get over it.
“Shh,” Draco said, kissing his forehead, his cheeks. “Shh.”
“I need you,” Harry whispered, voice thick with tears.
“I’m here, I’m here.” Draco thrust deep and long, pausing to kiss Harry. “You are so brilliant. You are so strong.”
“Yes,” Harry said, teeth gritted. He stroked himself fast, needing to come. “I want to be with you. I want only you.” He was squeezing around Draco, his orgasm mounting.
“Harry!” Draco said, his rhythm faltering. He was coming, and it was hard and deep and everything Harry needed.
Harry stiffened and spilled over his own fist. Draco kissed him as he came down, his mouth soft, loving.
“Stay with me,” Draco whispered. “Please - stay with me.”
“Yes,” Harry murmured, feeling safe for the first time in ages.
Dean and Merkins had returned a handful of times to interview Maggie and Draco, but Harry could tell they were ready to close the case without filing any charges.
In the morning, his stay at the bed and breakfast would end, but Harry didn’t want to leave.
“Then don’t,” Draco said against his chest.
Harry dipped his fingers in the drying sweat on Draco’s forehead. “I have to go back to work.”
“You can easily Apparate to the Ministry from here. I take Wolfsbane. You will be safe with me.”
“Okay, I’ll stay,” Harry said, and kissed him. They laughed, relieved, and clung to each other.
“Happy New Year,” Draco said.
I am done!!! DONE!! WHOOOOOOOOOO
Thanks for reading! Happy New Year!