Draco was sprawled on the settee in Theo’s room, waiting impatiently as Theo bustled around getting ready to go out.
The two of them had been living together at Malfoy Manor for more than a year and Theo had made himself at home. Draco had suggested it only a few months after the end of the war and Theo hadn’t hesitated to accept; with Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy both dead, and Theo disowned, they’d both been quietly glad for the company. Besides, Theo had had nowhere else to go.
“I honestly don’t understand why you are getting him anything,” Draco sneered.
“I am getting him something because I want to,” Theo stated, not even bothering to spare his friend a glance as he continued to shuffle carefully through his wardrobe in search of the perfect robe to match his outfit. “It’s as simple as that.”
Theo froze; closing his eyes, he let out a long, slow breath, willing himself calm. Harry Potter had always been a sensitive subject for Draco Malfoy, even if Theo didn’t quite understand why, and he knew Draco was still sceptical, despite the numerous times they’d had very similar conversations.
Slowly he turned to fix Draco with a pointed glare.
“I know it is hard for you to imagine why anyone would actually want to do something nice for Harry but, as my closest friend, could you please try to accept that I do.”
Draco huffed indignantly. “Preposterous,” he declared dismissively. A contemplative expression crossed his face, his eyes narrowing. “I will find out how Potter hoodwinked you.”
Theo rolled his eyes as he turned back to the wardrobe and selected one of his favourite robes. Shrugging it onto his shoulders he looked to the mirror on the wall and tugged at the lapels to ensure it was sitting straight and wrinkle-free. He gave himself a small nod of approval.
“Very festive, sir,” the mirror told him. “And an excellent colour for your complexion.”
The deep burgundy red did look good on him, and seasonally appropriate, particularly with the subtle gold detailing around the bottom hem. These robes were particularly precious to him, having been some of the first robes he had bought for himself with his own money, money he had earned working as a Ministry archivist.
Running his fingers through his hair and tussling it, just enough to give himself the windswept look he knew Harry liked, Theo snatched his wand from the dresser and strode across the room toward the door.
“You look like a bloody Gryffindor,” Draco grumbled, rolling himself to his feet and following.
“This is much darker than Gryffindor red, and you know it,” Theo insisted stubbornly.
He was not going to change again, having finally found an outfit he was happy with. He would not let Draco ruin this for him. He ignored the dramatic huff from his friend a few paces behind him as he headed out into the hallway.
Turning left, he made his way toward the Entrance Hall.
“Besides,” he added as Draco caught up with him, matching his strides, “we aren’t in Hogwarts anymore. I’m not going to avoid the colour red for the rest of my life simply because I wasn’t a Gryffindor.”
“Potter isn’t going to forget you weren’t a Gryffindor just because you dress like one,” Draco pointed out haughtily.
“What?” Theo blinked at his friend in disbelief for a moment before shaking his head. “How is that anything close to what I said?” he asked rhetorically as they reached the stairs. “Sometimes I wonder if you listen to a single word I say.”
Draco smirked. “I try not to.”
“Anyway...” Theo went on pointedly, trying to remember exactly why he and Draco were friends, “I’m not trying to fool anyone. And…” he added quickly as they reached the Entrance Hall, turning on his heel to face Draco and raising a hand to cut him off before he could speak, “...no one is hoodwinking me. Not even you, my clever friend.”
Ruffling Draco’s feathers never grew old.
Theo smiled subtly to himself as he turned from Draco’s now deeply scowling face, crossing the Entrance Hall with long strides.
“I think I should accompany you,” Draco called after him, his hurried footsteps sounding loudly off the marble floor and echoing in the mostly empty hall. “Just to be sure.”
Theo frowned at Draco as he caught up, the two of them heading down a familiar corridor. It led to several communal rooms, including the Receiving Room, the only location in the house which allowed apparition past the wards.
“To be sure of what precisely?” Theo questioned. “That no opportunity to insult Harry Potter is missed?”
“Admittedly, that would be a bonus,” Draco told him with an unrepentant shrug.
As Theo reached for the doorknob, Draco reached out, resting his hand on Theo’s arm. Waiting, Theo met his eye, surprised by the earnest expression his friend wore.
“I just don’t want to see these Gryffindors get the best of you,” Draco told him. “Beside’s I’m excellent company.”
Theo rolled his eyes as he pushed open the door to the Receiving Room and stepped inside.
“Fine,” Theo agreed with a resigned sigh, holding the door open and gesturing Draco inside. “You can come. But you have to at least try to behave like an adult. No insulting Harry or his friends, no petty remarks, and no pulling Harry’s pigtails.”
“Trust me, I would never lower myself to touching Potter’s hair,” Draco assured him with a dismissive wave of his hand. “No matter how he chooses to style it,” he added snootily before disappearing into thin air with a pop.
“Well I’m reassured,” Theo muttered to himself, focusing on Diagon Alley and disapparating.
Predictably, Diagon Alley was busy. It seemed to Theo that every wizard in Britain must be there, all of them hurrying about, trying to find perfect gifts for each of their loved ones. The crowds were not helped by the large tree being erected close to Gringotts, a spectacle which was drawing a crowd of its own already. It made Theo glad he had come early and already found what he was looking for.
“You’ll never find Potter in amongst all these considerably taller people,” Draco remarked as they looked around, trying to see over the crowd pushing past them in both directions. “We might as well give up now and go home.”
“You’ve been complaining for years about how you could spot a Weasley from a mile away,” Theo pointed out. “Your time has come.”
“Weasley?!” Draco exclaimed with something close to horror, turning to glare at Theo. “You never said there would be Weasleys.”
“I told you I was meeting Harry and his friends,” Theo told him, shrugging. “You knew at the very least that would include Ron Weasley. Those two are inseparable. If I didn’t know better I would think there was something more between them.”
“Are you quite certain there isn’t? I would hate for you to have your heart broken by a Weasley of all people.”
“I’m sure,” Theo told him with an unimpressed frown. “I have seen more than enough proof of how smitten Weasley is with Granger.”
Draco’s nose scrunched in disgust. “Ew.”
“Quite,” Theo agreed dryly.
“Also, I believe we should be heading in that direction,” Draco instructed pointing a little way off passed Theo’s left shoulder, his brow furrowed.
“Really?” Theo questioned, turning his gaze in the direction his friend was pointing.
Sure enough, there was a distinct group of redheads gathered there, about twenty feet from them.
“Huh…” He chuckled to himself. “Seems you really are a Weasley-detector. Who would have thought it? Are you sure it’s not you who has a thing for one of them?” he asked teasingly.
“Theodore!” Draco exclaimed in outrage. “Don’t even joke about such things.” Shaking his head, he barged passed Theo, heading toward the gaggle of Gryffindors.
Theo hurriedly followed, dodging through the crowds.
“Weasleys…” Draco was grumbling under his breath as Theo caught up with him.
“While your feelings about Ron have always been quite clear, there are quite a few other Weasleys to choose from,” Theo pointed out with a smirk.
“Do you want to be homeless?” Draco threatened, his eyes narrowing dangerously.
Theo, however, simply grinned at him broadly, knowing it would take a lot more for his friend to evict him from Malfoy Manor. They needed each other far too much, even if neither of them would ever admit such a thing aloud.
The moment they stepped into the small clearing the Weasleys had created, Harry was there, grinning and greeting him enthusiastically.
“Theo! You made it.”
It warmed Theo’s heart and he quickly pulled Harry into his arms.
“Of course I did,” he told him earnestly, hugging Harry around the waist with one arm, pulling him close. Threading the fingers of his other hand into Harry’s thick hair, he pressed their lips together in a brief, chaste kiss before looking him in the eye once more. “I wanted to see you.”
“You just saw me yesterday,” Harry reminded him with a laugh, grinning up at Theo happily as he was released from Theo’s embrace. “Were you missing me already?”
“Dream on, Potter,” Draco sneered, drawing Harry’s attention to him for the first time.
“Oh good, you brought Malfoy,” Harry said flatly, fixing Draco with a glare for a few seconds before turning to look back up at Theo. “And just when I was starting to think you actually liked me.”
“I do like you. I more than like you,” Theo insisted, obviously unfazed. “But Draco is my closest friend and he was concerned about our relationship.” He leaned down to whisper to Harry. “He thinks you have me hoodwinked,”
Harry laughed at that, giving Theo a playful shove.
“I’m always nice to your friends,” Theo pointed out, pulling Harry back into his arms and stealing another kiss. “Let him see how happy you make me. Please?” he implored, pressing teasing kisses to Harry’s jaw.
“Okay, okay, fine,” Harry agreed, chuckling, and his hands sprawled against Theo’s chest. “He can join us,” he agreed, as Theo pulled back to look him in the eye.
“I knew you’d see things my way,” Theo stated confidently.
“Yes, yes, you’re very persuasive,” Harry agreed with a roll of his eyes.
Taking Theo by the hand, he led him, and Draco, toward the centre of the group of Weasleys.
“Everyone, you remember Theo, right?”
There were shouted greetings, much waving, and George, Charlie, Hermione and Mr Weasley all even shook his hand in welcome. It hadn’t been easy the first time he’d brought Theo along to a Weasley dinner, but after six months together, most of them had grown used to his presence. Ron was still adjusting, but seeing Harry happy was enough to keep his temper in check… most of the time at least.
“What are you doing here, Malfoy?” Ron asked suddenly, drawing everyone’s attention to the blond in question.
“It’s a public place, Weasley. I have as much right to be here as you do.”
“He’s here as Theo’s guest, Ron,” Harry stated quickly, stepping in front of his best friend and raising a hand. “Be nice.”
“Nice?” Ron asked incredulously.
“It’s Christmas, Ron,” Hermione reminded him, resting a hand on Ron’s arm.
“But-” Ron began, but Hermione shook her head.
“We’re not in Hogwarts anymore, the war is over, we all lost too much…” Hermione’s voice trembled and several gazes flickered unwillingly to George, who was standing with Angelina, between Charlie and Ginny, looking as lost as he often seemed to nowadays.
“Malfoy is Theo’s friend, and you know how I feel about Theo…” Harry said earnestly, as Theo wrapped an arm around his shoulders, both of them looking Ron in the eye.
“Draco’s not going to be any trouble,” Theo assured him. “Right, Draco?”
“Sure,” Draco agreed blandly, his arms crossed over his chest. “I’ll be good as gold.”
“Convincing,” Ron grumbled under his breath, obviously sceptical.
“Please, Ron,” Harry implored. “Just… don’t start anything.”
“I won’t, if he doesn’t,” Ron agreed belligerently, jabbing a finger in Draco’s direction.
“Good enough, thank you,” Theo said earnestly, knowing it was the best they would get. And he went back to attempting to regain Harry’s attention for himself.
The following hour or so was surprisingly peaceful as they watched more and more glowing decorations being added to the enormous tree. As the sun set, disappearing behind the buildings, the decorations illuminated the wizarding street in a magical glow. However as the setting sun also meant the temperature was dropping rapidly too.
“This will warm you up,” Charlie said, appearing at Theo’s side, holding out a tray containing four cups of hot chocolate.
Theo glanced at the other Weasleys, who were all now clutching cups of their own. He wasn’t sure when the older Weasley brother had ducked away and fetched the drinks but they were certainly a welcome offering. The warming charms they were using kept the worst at bay but had nothing on a true heat source like this.
“Thank you,” Theo said earnestly, taking two cups, one for himself and handing the other to Harry. “What do I owe you?”
“Nothing, don’t be silly,” Charlie said dismissively, grinning widely. “My treat.”
“Thanks, Charlie!” Harry exclaimed gratefully, cradling the warm cup between his cold fingers.
“Thank you,” Theo agreed earnestly.
Sipping his drink, he relished the delicious warmth that spread through his body. He watched on curiously, however, as Charlie turned to Draco next.
“Hot Chocolate, Malfoy?”
Draco turned to blink at Charlie in disbelief before his gaze shifted to the hot drink the man was offering. Theo could see the battle in his friend’s mind. Draco got cold more easily than anyone he knew, and he also had a terrible sweet tooth, particularly when it came to all things chocolate, but to accept it from a Weasley…
“Ron will happily claim a second one if you don’t want it,” Charlie told him casually.
Theo barely restrained a snort, already knowing it would work and rather impressed by how easily Charlie played his stubborn friend.
“I think not!” Draco exclaimed huffily, all but snatching the cup from Charlie’s hand. “Weasley will just have to manage with what he already has, thank you very much,” he added before drinking deeply, as though not wanting to give him a chance to change his mind.
“Mind if I watch with you?” Charlie asked, gesturing up at the tree, which was almost completely decorated now.
“It’s a public place, Weasley,” Draco told him. “Stand wherever you want.”
“Charlie,” Charlie corrected.
Draco turned to blink at him in surprised confusion, and Theo couldn’t help but smirk knowingly. Maybe his teasing about Draco’s Weasley-detector hadn’t been so far off the mark after all.
“You should call me, Charlie,” the red-head clarified. “I have a lot of siblings, so calling us all Weasley gets confusing.”
“Right,” Draco agreed, before going back to looking at the tree. “Thank you for the drink… Charlie.”