Their first Christmas together in their new home was the best Dean could remember.
They’d decorated the flat on the first weekend in December, hoisting a Christmas tree that was altogether too large up the narrow staircase. It had towered in the corner of the living room since then, swathed in garlands of brightly-coloured tinsel and shining baubles as the pile of amusingly-wrapped presents at its base grew. Dean had enchanted the angel at the top of the tree to dance whenever someone entered the room and Seamus had been in awe of it for the whole of the first week, insisting that Dean's skill in charms far exceeded Professor Flitwick's.
There were fairy lights bordering every frosted window now, making the wintery world outside look as picturesque as a Christmas card. The beautiful scenery kept Dean glued to the glass for hours that year, sitting folded up on the windowsill with his battered sketchbook as he drew their little corner of London, perfecting the delicate whorls of ice on the panes and the way the snow clung to the surrounding buildings like the icing on a Christmas cake.
Seamus had been more content to spend his time in the warmth of the kitchen with the real desserts, singing along to the holiday tunes playing on the radio as he baked all manner of treats in his ever-present frilly apron. He was particularly adept at crumbly mince pies and gingerbread but Dean had enjoyed the Christmas cake they'd made together most; had loved the smudge of icing sugar on the younger man's nose and how sweet his mouth tasted when Dean leant down to kiss him.
They'd spent a lot of time outside together too, whenever they could escape from work and the other obligations that came with owning their first home.
Seamus considered any day without a snowball fight wasted and Dean enjoyed seeing how adorably frustrated the younger man became whenever the head rolled off his army of snowmen. (He'd been trying to build The Perfect Snowman since their Hogwarts days and still hadn't achieved it but it certainly hadn't prevented him from trying. If anything, each passing year only made Seamus more motivated.)
They'd been having a snow angel contest on their Saturday morning walks too, both of them competing to see who could make the best one. Usually this dissolved into Seamus tackling the older man into the snow and kissing the breath from him but Dean wasn't complaining. Seamus had always been a firecracker and that was just fine with him.
It was one of the reasons Dean had fallen in love with the younger man in the first place.
For tonight though, Seamus was calm.
It was Christmas Eve and the sun had already sunk beneath the surrounding rooftops. The sky was a deep indigo overhead as the stars blinked to life and Dean's contentment settled over him like a blanket as he wandered through the dusk beside Seamus, both of them bundled up in scarves and coats against the cold.
“We should watch another muggle Christmas film tonight,” Dean decided, glancing towards a heavily-decorated front garden nearby as Seamus stopped to scrabble around in the snow at their feet. “Miracle On 34th Street maybe… or Home Alone. You'd probably prefer that one.”
Seamus mumbled something unintelligible, his golden hair sticking out messily from beneath his bobble hat as he finally rose triumphantly, and Dean looked down at the blond man curiously, one eyebrow rising.
“Remind me again why we're collecting pinecones?” he asked innocently, staring pointedly at the armful of them he was already carrying at Seamus’ request. The blond man grinned at him, his blue eyes crinkling.
“Because you promised and you love me?” he asked cheekily, fluttering his eyelashes. Dean snorted.
“True enough but you'll have to try harder than that, Shay.”
“Fine!” the blond man said, rolling his eyes fondly as he deposited another pinecone reverently into the growing pile in Dean's arms. “We're collecting them because just having one Christmas tree isn't enough! I'm going to put these in little pots and you're going to transfigure them green so I don't burn the flat down, and then it'll be like having twenty tiny Christmas trees! They’re going to look really sweet.”
Dean wondered if Seamus had read about this in one of his grandmother’s craft magazines but was kind enough not to call him out on it.
“Ah, my mistake,” the older man said solemnly, trying to keep his lips from twitching until Seamus' hopeful smile proved infectious. “I'll even dig the silver glitter out from Pride last year if you're really good. Then they’ll look extra festive,” he said before pulling a teasingly deadpan face. “All twenty of them.”
Seamus beamed, apparently mollified as he stretched up on his tiptoes to kiss the older man gently on the lips.
“I'm always good for you, Dean,” he said smoothly but any possible flirtiness was lost when he sneezed suddenly, his nose red from the cold. Seamus glowered at the older man’s surprised burst of laughter but his freckled face softened when he saw the glow of the fairy lights sparkling in Dean’s lovely eyes.
“You’re beautiful,” Seamus said unthinkingly, relishing the bashful expression on the older man’s face. The words were true though; Seamus always found Dean captivating but on nights like these, with snowflakes melting in his dark hair and his lips curving into warm smiles, Seamus found it hard to believe that Dean was real at all.
“Says you. You’re the most beautiful person I’ve ever met,” the older man mumbled, biting the inside of his cheek shyly to keep from smiling. “Now don’t you think it’s time we went home, Shay? I think twenty miniature glittery trees is more than enough and I really don’t want you getting a cold for Christmas.”
“We don’t have to go home yet,” Seamus said sulkily, glancing wistfully down the fairy light-strung path where the promise of further pinecones awaited. “I can just brew some pepper up potion if I need it.”
“When will wizards ever learn to accept Lemsip?” Dean asked with mock-sadness before he nudged Seamus lightly with his elbow, making a silly pouty face until the younger man smiled again. “How about we make a deal?” he suggested, his breath ghosting in the air as his full lips curved up into a smirk. “We go home now so we don’t freeze to death – but we’ll go the long way so you can still look at the pretty lights, yeah?”
“Okay,” Seamus said fondly, pressing a brief kiss to the older man’s shoulder through the coat he was wearing. “We can eat some of the cookies we baked earlier while we watch your film tonight if you like. Sound like a good end to Christmas Eve?”
Dean grinned, his heart swelling with love in his chest.
“Sounds perfect, Shay,” he agreed before a soft chuckle escaped him. “We better step on it though – I think you’re colder than you said. You look like a tiny adorable Rudolph.”
“Are you saying my nose has gone red?” Seamus demanded with a weak scowl. Dean dropped a kiss onto the aforementioned nose, trying not to drop any of the pinecones.
“Only a tiny bit,” he said honestly. “And I did say you looked adorable.”
“And like a reindeer,” Seamus pointed out, trying hard to act like he wasn’t amused. “Whoever said romance was dead?”
“Silly,” Dean murmured but the love in the younger man’s eyes was unmistakable and he would never, ever tire of it. “Let’s go home before you turn into an icicle. I’ll make that hot chocolate you like, yeah? With the little marshmallows and the candy cane.”
“Very festive,” Seamus said, his lips twitching into a smile although the gratitude was evident on his face. “Can mine be in the snowman mug?”
“If it materialised after the Ugly Christmas Jumper Party then sure,” Dean grinned. “I still don’t know why accio wasn’t working. I bet Ron nicked it as a prank. He’s probably going to give it back to us as a present.”
“Well, that’s what you get for telling Hermione the embarrassing dormitory spider story after Ron swore you to secrecy,” Seamus pointed out, his eyes twinkling. “Honestly, Dean, if I’d known you couldn’t hold your eggnog and were going to start blabbering closely-held secrets, I would’ve kept you drinking lemonade with Ginny.”
“Hey, I’m not pregnant!” Dean said huffily, sticking his tongue out when Seamus hid his smile in his scarf. “I’ll drink alcohol if I want to – and anyway, you should be nice to me! I’m carrying all these damn pinecones for you and probably freezing in the process. I doubt I’ll ever warm up again.”
Seamus grinned, stretching to press a lingering kiss to the older man’s cheek.
“I’ll find a way to warm you up,” he promised, throwing a smirk over his shoulder that made Dean blush. “C’mon now. Tomorrow is all about family, yeah? Tonight is for us.”
Something had shifted in the air between them and Dean swallowed audibly as he followed Seamus through the snow, his heart beating just a little too fast. They made it back home more quickly than either would have thought possible, both of them laughing breathlessly as Seamus finally got the key turned in the lock.
His eyes sparkled in the star-shaped lights strung up in their hallway and Dean couldn’t help it when he let the pinecones clatter to the floor, intent only on kissing Seamus.
They shed their outer layers clumsily as they stumbled into living room, both giggling as they slumped down onto the sofa in a tangle of limbs to the sound of the radio still playing from earlier. They'd left a trail of coats, hats, scarves, and gloves leading from the front door, and Dean’s contentment overwhelmed him when he caught a glimpse of the engagement ring circling Seamus’ finger – a beautiful promise that Dean never intended to break.
“Can’t believe we’ll be married by next Christmas,” he murmured, his eyes growing damp with tears as he gazed down wonderingly at the younger man. The lights from the tree painted Seamus’ face like stained glass and the smile curving his lips was irresistible when he coaxed his fiancé down to kiss him, sweeter than the smell of cinnamon still wafting in the air from their earlier baking.
“Well, you’d better starting believing it,” Seamus said, smiling against the older man’s lips when Dean’s cool hands slipped under his jumper to stroke the warm skin. “We’re going to be husbands.”
A soft sound escaped him when Dean’s thigh slipped between his and Seamus hummed contentedly as he tucked his face away into the older man’s neck, his lips trailing kisses. His golden hair was soft between Dean’s fingers and the warmth of their bodies rocking teasingly together was enough to steal the air from Seamus’ lungs.
“I love you,” he gasped out, his eyes sliding shut in pleasure as his head lolled back onto the arm of the sofa. Dean smiled, leaving hot kisses on the younger man’s throat until Seamus was flushed beneath him, his body growing hot as the snow continued to fall outside.
“I love you too,” Dean whispered, like a prayer.
It was dark beyond the curtains but the glow of the Christmas tree was comforting as Seamus lost himself in his boyfriend’s warmth.
For a while, their world narrowed to their soft moans and the cheery music playing on the radio; the scent of pine and the lingering smell of baking; the shining presents under the branches and the angel dancing on the tree.
Dean hoped every winter would be just like this for the rest of their lives.
It was the best Christmas he’d ever had.