Chapter 1: Tree
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.”
Chapter 2: Santa
Harry leaned against the doorframe of Andromeda’s living room. An amused, fond smile twitched at his lips as he watched her battle to get shoes on to the never still feet of twenty-month old Teddy. It was a challenge he’d faced more than a few times in the last year or so.
“Hey, Teddy, you excited to meet Santa?” he asked.
Teddy’s head jerked around, grinning as he spotted Harry, becoming even more restless.
“Ya, ya,” he declared happily, his little head bobbing eagerly. His ear-length turquoise hair flopped in his face but he seemed unconcerned as he clumsily brushed it out of his eyes with the back of his hand.
“I think he’s more excited about you being here than Santa,” Andromeda retorted, finally managing to secure the lace of the second shoe before turning to look over her shoulder with an amused half-smile. “It’s been nothing but ‘Harry, Harry, Harry,’ all week.”
“Hawweee!” Teddy all but squealed, lifting and clapping his hands above his head.
Pulling his now shoe-covered-foot free from his grandmother’s hold, he wiggled himself forward off the front of the sofa, heading straight for Harry.
“It’s nice to be wanted,” Harry said with a shrug as he pushed off the doorframe and opened his arms. Teddy didn’t slow, and as he collided into Harry’s legs, Harry reached down and swung him easily up into his arms, sitting him on one hip as he crossed the room to Andromeda.
“Teddy does love his uncle Harry, there’s no doubt about that,” Andromeda assured him as she struggled to get herself up from the floor where she had been kneeling.
Harry wisely chose not to remark and simply held out his free hand, which Andromeda accepted with a half-hearted glare and a resigned sigh. Using his support, she hauled herself back to her feet with an aching groan.
“I really wish you would let me help out more,” Harry told her with a frown as he followed her out into the hallway.
“No, no,” she said, stubbornly dismissive as always, despite the fact her back was obviously causing her discomfort, if not outright pain. “Teddy and I manage just fine. Besides, you’re young. You should be spending every minute of your free time with that lovely man of yours.”
“Feo?” Teddy echoed hopefully, his hand tapping against Harry’s chest as he looked up him.
“Later, Teddy,” Harry promised, smiling back at his godson.
“Unless you have some other lovely man you’ve not told me about?” Andromeda questioned as she retrieved Teddy’s coat, gloves, and scarf from the hooks in the hall.
Harry chuckled. “No, just the one for now.”
“And he’s joining us today?”
“Should be meeting us there,” Harry told her as he took careful hold Teddy’s hand so Andromeda could slip a glove over tiny, wiggling fingers. “He had a few things to take care of this morning and didn’t want to keep us waiting.”
“Such a considerate gentleman,” Andromeda practically crooned, as she slid Teddy’s second glove into place, before pulling a bobble-topped hat down to Teddy’s ears. “You have excellent taste,” she praised, patting Harry’s cheek.
“Errr…thanks,” Harry muttered, feeling a bit awkward and flushed at the affection and praise, even if the latter was more directed at his boyfriend.
“Hawwy?” Teddy said, reaching up to press fingers to Harry’s cheek too.
“Yes, Teddy?” he asked, happy to have an excuse to give his full attention to the not-quite two-year-old in his arms.
“Where Feo?” Teddy asked a little impatiently, glancing over Harry’s shoulder toward the front door. “Feo play?”
“Yep, Theo’s going to come and play too,” Harry promised him, “but first you have to let Grandma put your coat on you.”
“Okay,” Teddy agreed seriously, wiggling to be put down and turning to his Grandmother the moment his feet touched the ground, with his arms out. “Coat, Ga’ma!” he demanded.
The muggle ‘Winter Wonderland’ was already bustling with people by the time they arrived. The sounds of Christmas music were mingling with the chatter of the crowds and the laughter of happy children. The real snow, which was thin on the ground outside, had been topped up with artificial stuff, making it feel much more like the winters Harry remembered from Hogwarts, with snowbanks against every wall and snow crunching underfoot. Around them, various stalls were offering food and hot drinks, filling the air with rich and alluring aromas.
Harry wanted to take his time and explore all the offerings, but Teddy, who was perched upon his shoulders, had other ideas.
“‘Orse, Hawwy. ‘Orse!” he exclaimed excitedly, his little legs kicking despite the tight hold Harry had on them.
Slightly confused, Harry turned in the direction Teddy was pointing, trying to understand exactly what it was that had caught his godson’s eye. Peering through the crowd, he spotted an animal enclosure with several large reindeer. A small laugh bubbled out of this throat.
“Those are reindeer, Teddy,” Andromeda explained before Harry had a chance.
“Do you want to go see the reindeer?” Harry asked.
“Neindeer!” Teddy shouted, patting Harry on the top of the head. “Want see Neindeer.”
“Rein, Teddy, Reindeer,” Andromeda corrected, as the three of them started to make their way toward the enclosure.
“Deer no rainin’, Ga’ma,” Teddy said with a laugh, covering his mouth as he giggled.
“Well of course not, Teddy. It is just what they’re called,” Andromeda explained.
Teddy, however, didn’t really seem to be paying her much attention. As they reached the small gathering around the animal enclosure, his wide-eyed gaze became fixed in amazement upon the large creatures.
Amused by Teddy’s awe, Harry lifted him down from his shoulders, taking his hand securely in his own to keep his godson from rushing off or getting lost in the crowd.
“Want see, Hawwy,” Teddy insisted, tugging on Harry’s hand and Harry allowed himself to be led between a few people and right up to the metal railing. “Eeee! Look, reindeer!”
“I see the reindeer, Teddy,” Harry assured him, crouching down just behind the twenty-month-old. “Do you want to touch it?”
“Gently, Teddy,” Andromeda added from a few paces behind them.
Teddy squealed excitedly, not even hesitating before reaching through the railing to brush a hand very gently against the leg of the nearest reindeer. Squealing once more, he quickly withdrew his hand, laughing as he backed up against Harry.
“You guys look like you’re having fun.”
“Feo!” Teddy exclaimed, recognising Theo’s voice instantly and moving around Harry to throw himself at Theo’s legs.
“You’re here earlier than I expected,” Harry remarked as he stood back up and leaned in, to give Theo a quick, chaste kiss to the lips. “Not that I’m complaining. I just thought you would be a while yet. It sounded like you had a lot to get done.”
“I decided that spending the morning with you and this little man,” Theo said, ruffling Teddy’s hair, “was a much more appealing prospect than meeting with the goblins. They can wait until tomorrow.”
“Good answer, Theodore,” Andromeda praised quietly, but Harry didn’t miss the tone of amusement and threw her a small glare before returning his attention to his boyfriend.
“Choosing me over the goblins, I suppose I should be flattered?” Harry asked teasingly. “Or perhaps I’m just a convenient excuse to avoid dealing with incredibly boring Gringotts matters?”
Theo chuckled softly, shrugging as he wrapped an arm around Harry. “You are the most wonderful excuse to avoid many things,” he informed him, stealing another brief kiss.
“Feo, Feo,” Teddy interrupted, tugging at Theo’s trouser leg to get his attention.
“Sorry, little man, what is it,” Theo said, releasing Harry and crouching down to put himself at Teddy’s height.
“Look, is reindeer,” Teddy informed him, as he pointed toward the animals once more. “But they no raining,” he added, shaking his head, his expression growing incredibly serious.
“Well that’s good because otherwise, we’d get all get…” he quickly swept Teddy up into his arms, tickling him as he did so, earning a joyful screech, “...soaking wet! And cold,” he added, ceasing his tickles and blowing a raspberry against Teddy’s cheek.
Harry smiled at the sight, loving how amazing Theo was with his godson, how carefree they both seemed when they were playing together. He became so caught up in watching his boyfriend and godson looking at the reindeer and talking together, that he didn’t notice Andromeda move to his side.
“He’s really very good with him,” Andromeda pointed out, not for the first time.
“Yeah,” Harry told her with a grin. “Teddy knows how to handle Theo perfectly.”
“While that is admittedly true, you know perfectly well what I meant, Harry Potter,” she stated firmly, unimpressed.
Harry sighed, knowing he wasn’t going to avoid this inevitably awkward conversation, which he knew Andromeda had been trying to have with him in one form or another for some weeks now. In truth, he was finally happy and just didn’t want to change or question anything that might burst the wonderful little bubble he was currently living in.
“Well, you know I think Theo’s great...” Harry agreed.
Andromeda hummed her agreement, watching him with a patiently expectant gaze.
“I’m happy with him, I’m not sure what else you want me to say,” Harry admitted.
“Maybe you want to consider spending more of your time with him then,” she suggested. “Perhaps if you lived together…”
“I’m just not sure I’m ready for anything... more,” he added vaguely. Though even as he said it, his brain supplied him with numerous mental images of the potential domestic life they could share, the breakfasts they could eat together, the evenings they could spend lounging on the sofa, and the prospect of waking up next to him every morning.
“Whenever you’re ready,” Andromeda assured him gently, reaching out to clasp his hand in her own. “Just be cautious not to let something precious slip through your grasp. We both know all too well how short and unpredictable life can be.”
Harry just nodded, sharing a warm and hopefully reassuring smile with Theo as the man glanced back over his shoulder toward him. He couldn’t argue with that.
Harry smiled fondly as he pulled Teddy’s scarf a little more securely around his godson’s neck, blocking out the worst of the bitter wind that was blowing through them as they waited in line to meet Santa.
“It’s your turn next, Teddy,” he informed him.
“You still awake, kid?” Theo asked, poking teasingly at the twenty-month-old, who was perched on his hip, head resting on his shoulder, having exhausted himself rushing around for most of the long day.
Teddy squirmed a little as Theo prodded him, giggling as he closed his eyes and pretended to sleep. Andromeda had grown tired too and had opted to find herself somewhere to sit and rest for a while, trusting Teddy into Harry and Theo’s care
“You don’t want to fall asleep before meeting Santa,” Harry told Teddy with mock seriousness, brushing turquoise hair back from his wind-flushed face. “Unless you’re too tired to tell him what you would like for Christmas?”
Teddy giggled again and tried, failingly, to keep a straight face as he kept his eyes closed.
“Oh no,” Harry said over-dramatically, letting out a long disappointed-sounding sigh. “I guess we’ll just take Teddy home to bed, Theo. He’s obviously far too sleepy.”
“It seems so,” Theo said with mock sadness. “Guess he can’t meet Santa after all.”
“No, no! Santa! See Santa.” Teddy suddenly exclaimed, his eyes opening wide as he sat up in Theo’s arms, trying to peer around him to make sure Santa was still there. “No bed,” he added sternly as he turned back to Harry.
“Oh good, you woke up,” Harry said, faking surprise as he lifted Teddy from Theo’s arms and stood him down on his two feet and straighten his coat to make sure no part of him was being exposed to the cold winter air.
“Are we ready?” a petite lady in an elf outfit asked as she came back over toward the queue they were finally at the front of.
“Yah,” Teddy agreed excitedly, bobbing his head and grasping Harry’s hand securely. “I ready.”
“Then follow me,” she told them.
Together they followed her, toward a large man, who was sat on a golden throne-like chair wearing a fluffy red suit trimmed with white. The man smiled at them through his snow-coloured beard as they approached.
“Hello there, young man,” Santa greeted, his voice every bit as deep and rumbly as Harry had hoped. “What’s your name?”
“Teddy,” he informed him eagerly, not releasing his hold on Harry but shuffling closer to the large festive man, pulling Harry along behind him. “Dat’s Hawwy,” he added, turning to gesture to him.
“Nice to meet you both, Teddy and Harry,” Santa told them warmly.
Harry tried to gently nudge Teddy further forward toward the man, despite the hold his godson maintained on his hand.
“Go with him,” Theo encouraged, nudging Harry forward a little too.
Harry looked uncertain, but realising that Teddy wasn’t going without him, took the last few steps toward the throne and Santa upon it. He lifted Teddy up, and within his godson still holding firmly onto several of his fingers, sat him on Santa’s lap.
“Hi,” Teddy said, blinking up at the man as though almost surprised to see him.
“Is there something you would like for Christmas?” Santa asked.
“Boomstick,” Teddy declared excitedly.
Harry snorted out a surprised laugh and he could hear Theo chuckling a few paces behind him. He had no idea how he would explain that particular request. But it seemed he didn’t have to because Santa simply smiled and nodded.
“I’ll see what I can do,” he said seriously before turning to look Harry in the eye. “And you, young man? Anything I can bring you for Christmas?”
“Oh, ah…” Harry laughed nervously, shaking his head. “I’m just here for Teddy. I don’t really need anything.”
Santa chuckled deeply, his eyes sparkling. “Christmas isn’t just for children, Harry. And maybe, particularly at Christmas, it’s okay to ask for things we don’t strictly need, and maybe just would really like,” he said quietly with a wink. “It’s okay to want things, Harry,” he added, as he lifted Teddy back down onto his feet and handed him a small wrapped gift.
Harry just nodded in confusion as a very happy twenty-month-old barged back into his legs once more and he took Teddy’s hand securely in his own again as the three of them left Santa’s grotto together.
“Are you okay, Harry?” Theo asked with concern as they meandered their way back toward where Andromeda was waiting for them, Teddy hugging his present to his chest.
“Yeah, I am. I’m... “ Harry trailed off, turning to look at Theo seriously. “I want to spend Christmas together,” he said earnestly.
Theo broke into a surprised grin. “Seriously?”
“Yeah? I mean. I was going to go to the Weasley’s and I know you’d be welcome there, but if you think that would be too much then…”
“I’d love to, Harry,” Theo assured him earnestly, cutting him off, leaning forward to press his lips against Harry’s, a cheering Teddy clinging to their legs and trying to squish himself between them.
Chapter 3: Gifts
Charlie Weasley was enjoying being back in Britain.
He had loved working at the Dragon Sanctuary in Romania but after spending the best part of a decade living there, so far away from his family, he was glad to finally be home. He had missed the rambunctious family meals, was enjoying actually being up to date with his siblings' lives and having conversations with them on a regular basis, and he definitely loved not having to fight through waist-deep snow to get to work.
Although he did miss his dragons and colleagues, the only real problem was that he had yet to find a place of his own. This meant he was currently back in his childhood bedroom at the Burrow and was spending perhaps a little too much time with his mother.
Molly Weasley was undeniably delighted to have him back. However, she now seemed determined not to miss a single moment with him, which was flattering but growing old fast. Because while Charlie loved his mother with all his heart and understood her clinginess, given everything their family had been through in the last few years, it didn’t make it any less overbearing. He was, after all, a twenty-seven-year-old man, who had grown quite used to living a very independent life and taking care of himself.
He was, therefore, extremely grateful to Ginny, who, as planned, had shown up at the Burrow bright and early that morning. As he made his way downstairs, he could hear his mother and sister talking in the kitchen.
Giving up on the idea of breakfast, he went straight to the fireplace.
With it only been a week before Christmas, Charlie already knew what he was going to do with his freedom; he was going to make a start on the seemingly endless list of presents he still needed to buy. He knew he should probably have started sooner but it had been hard to find the time.
So, a man on a mission, he took a pinch of floo powder and threw it into the fire. He didn’t hesitate as they turned green, quickly stepping into the flames and calling out his destination.
Stepping out of the fireplace into the Leaky Cauldron, Charlie allowed himself a moment to revel in familiarity of it all.
The pub was exactly as he remembered, right down to the smell, which seemed to be a totally unique mix of centuries-old grim combined with the ever-present rich, hearty odours of home-made stews and pies. The same tables, sat in the same spots, illuminated by the same half-heartedly flickering candles which burnt unendingly above. He was fairly sure that a couple of the regulars tucked away in the corners might have been there longer than he’d been alive, though admittedly many of the pub's customers looked much the same as each other once they tucked themselves away in the dingy, shadowed corners and hidden beneath large hoods.
As he ordered breakfast from Tom at the bar and made his way over to one of the empty tables with a cup of tea, the whole experience had the welcome air of nostalgia. He remembered all too well the trips his family had taken to buy school books or Christmas presents, starting off their day in that very room.
The cooked breakfast, when it arrived not long later, was just as delicious as he remembered. Charlie devoured every scrap on his plate before draining the last dregs from his second cup of tea.
Pushing himself up from his seat, the wooden legs of the chair scraping loudly against the stone floor. He pointedly ignored the glare of the hag at the next table as he pulled a handful of coins from his pocket, counting out twelve sickles and eight knuts and leaving them on the table. He waved his thanks to Tom as he made his way to the back courtyard.
He felt almost like a kid again as he drew his wand. It took him a moment to recall the pattern of bricks, which he’d seen his parents tap out on so many occasions, but it quickly came back to him. Tapping it out for himself, he watched with childlike delight as the hustle and bustle of Diagon Alley was magically revealed before him.
There was a grin on his face as he strode forward through the newly formed archway, joining the excitable festive crowds.
“Ten sickles a pound, ten sickles a pound,” a vendor in the doorway to the apothecary was calling out loudly.
“Robes, custom made in time for Christmas,” a rather bored sounding sales lady shouted. “Dress to impress,” she added, almost humorously unconvincing in her tone.
Charlie soaked up the atmosphere as he let himself be swept along the street, not in any hurry to find the things he needed. He would be quite happy to spend the rest of the day browsing, searching out presents for each of his family and friends.
Though he knew exactly where he needed to stop off at first, his eyes already fixed open the towering marvel at the far end of the street; Gringotts.
Browsing Diagon Alley just a week before Christmas was unsurprisingly something of a challenge. There was plenty to see, that was for sure, but there were simply too many other witches and wizards trying to see it all for themselves too.
Charlie, however, was nothing if not patient. Years of competing with so many siblings, followed by just shy of a decade of handling dragons, had taught him well. He rarely rushed anything and was content to let things unfold as they would. So, while other customers around him seemed to grow increasingly aggravated by the bustling crowds and long lines in every shop, Charlie took it as a chance to look around and take in the many sights and smells Diagon had to offer.
As he was leaving Flourish and Blotts, having purchased perfect presents for both his father and Hermione, the rich, sweet scent of cooking chestnuts wafted over him and Charlie glanced around in search of the source.
“Roast chestnuts! Freshly roasted chestnuts!”
The shout drew Charlie’s attention to the raggedy man standing next to a small, rustic cart. Having eaten nothing since his rather filling breakfast that morning, Charlie detoured through the crowds, heading in the man’s direction, his stomach already rumbling in approval. He was unsurprised to see quite a queue had already formed. However, as he went to join the line, he narrowly missed colliding head-first into a thin blond-haired man, who had stepped into the back of the line at almost exactly the same time.
“Oh! Sorry, after you,” Charlie said, quickly stepping back. He had no issue waiting a few extra moments and knew how much of a hurry everyone else seemed to be in.
“Thank you,” the man replied a little curtly, with a sharp nod of his ducked head.
Charlie blinked in surprise as he recognised the blond who had taken the place in line in front of him.
Slowly, the blond turned, looking up at him. His grey eyes narrowed into a pointed and slightly confused expression, which Charlie rather enjoyed watching. Draco’s gaze lingered on Charlie’s face for a few long seconds before flicking briefly up to his hair.
“Weasley,” Draco greeted, his tone curt but not exactly cold.
Charlie let out a short, surprised laugh. “Didn’t expect to bump into you again so soon. But then I’m fairly sure half the wizarding population is here today.” He gestured to the crowds, as though Draco might have somehow failed to notice them. “Besides, who can resist the lure of freshly roasted chestnuts?”
Draco gave a non-committal hum, obviously unsure what to say.
Charlie, however, had no such issue. “I’m also pretty sure I told you to call me Charlie,” he went on with a grin. “You know far too many Weasleys for you to call all of us that.”
“Truer words,” Draco muttered under his breath, moving a little closer to the chestnut cart as the queue moved.
“If you’re not careful, I might get the impression you’re not pleased to see me,” Charlie teased, taking a slightly larger step, deliberately putting himself just a little closer to Draco than he had been before.
Grey eyes narrowed, flashing dangerously.
Charlie, however, just continued to smile, unperturbed by the frosty attitude. “But I have plenty of experience with dragons of all kinds,” he informed him. “I can tell my company doesn’t bother you half as much as you believe it should.”
Draco raised an eyebrow and, to Charlie, he seemed almost amused.
“I worked at the sanctuary in Romania,” Charlie explained. “I’ve transferred to the reserve in Wales now, so I can be closer to my family… what with everything that’s happened…” He trailed off. No one wanted to discuss the war, least of all at Christmas.
Although Draco said nothing, Charlie got the impression he understood, perhaps a little too well. There were few left in their world who hadn’t lost someone in recent years and he knew Draco had lost more than most.
“Leaving the sanctuary was a hard decision, of course, I loved everything about being there,” Charlie went on, wanting to fill the silence as much as anything, “but it’s good to be able to spend more time with my family. I am very much enjoying my break from them today, though. They can be a little intense.”
Draco hummed in vague agreement as the queue moved forward once more, the pair of them moving in sync. “It can be nice to have time to one’s self.”
“I suppose, though I wouldn’t say no to some company this afternoon if you’re interested,” Charlie offered, stepping passed Draco and up to the counter at the small cart when the last of the queue in front of them moved away. “Two bags, please.”
Draco’s protest, however, was cut short.
“It’s on me,” Charlie informed him dismissively as he took the first of the bags of chestnuts and handed it over to Draco, whose brow was furrowed in confused indignation. .
“You really did not have to do this,” Draco told him sternly, apparently baffled by the unexpected show of generosity.
“Of course not,” Charlie agreed easily, paying the raggedy man behind the counter before taking the second bag. “I wanted to.”
He led a still dazed-looking Draco out of the way of those now queuing behind them.
“Consider it a bribe for your company for a few hours,” Charlie reasoned. “Plus I still have far too many presents to buy and could seriously use a second opinion. And at least I can trust you to be bluntly honest with yours.”
“Unless you’re too busy?” Charlie questioned, second-guessing himself for a moment.
“I suppose I could spare a few hours,” Draco admitted reluctantly, popping a single chestnut in his mouth and doing his utmost to appear disinterested.
Charlie, however, beamed at him. “Brilliant. Maybe you can help me figure out what in Merlin’s name I’m going to get Harry. That boy never wants anything, I swear.”
Draco made a strangled noise of protest, his eyes widening very slightly as he stared up at the slightly taller man. “And why would I know anything about what he wants?” he questioned indignantly, quickly straightening his face into a mask of apparent indifference.
“Well, he is dating your best friend, for one thing,” Charlie pointed out, the corner of his mouth twitching up in amusement. “Besides, from everything I hear, you and Harry always had a somewhat unhealthy fascination with each other,” he added with a dismissive shrug, as they started to meander their way down the street.
“We do not!” Draco exclaimed with something akin to horror etched on his face.
“But even if you can’t help with Harry’s present, you can definitely help me find something for Theo.”
Draco huffed. “I might be able to help you with that.”
“Perfect. Thank you,” Charlie told him earnestly.
“But you are on your own with regards to Potter,” Draco added quickly, sternly. “No sane wizard could ever hope to comprehend what goes on within that twisted mind.”
Charlie decided it was best not to argue. Smiling to himself, he popped a chestnut into his mouth as he followed his blond friend into a nearby antique store he had never bothered to explore before.
Draco was, perhaps unsurprisingly, an incredibly bossy shopper. Not that Charlie minded.
He had spent the rest of the afternoon being dragged into numerous small and fascinating shops. Many of them he was quite certain he had never seen before, despite the fact he had been visiting Diagon Alley his entire life and had spent the whole morning wandering around exploring it for himself. Draco seemed to have access to alleyways that others just didn’t.
He also had definitely been right, Draco’s opinion was proving invaluable.
Draco had helped pick out not only the perfect gift for Theo, but also found a beautiful self-cleaning apron for Charlie’s mother, explosion-proof gloves for George, and even, despite his protests, a detailed book on how Quidditch had evolved as a sport throughout history, which Charlie knew Harry was going to love.
“I would never have managed to find something for everyone without your help,” Charlie told him gratefully.
“It was rather a large number of presents to purchase,” Draco agreed.
“The quite literal price I pay for having such a large family, I suppose,” Charlie sighed dramatically before chuckling a little.
“It could be worse,” Draco pointed out quietly, his tone turning serious.
Charlie sobered, the mood between them growing suddenly sombre. He found himself remembering once again just how much Draco had lost, how little he had left. He couldn’t even begin to imagine what it would be like to lose your whole family.
“You’re quite right, of course,” he said, nodding once. “I’m certainly not complaining, you understand. I know all too well that Family is not something to be taken for granted.”
“No,” Draco agreed. “It isn’t. Thank you for a lovely afternoon, Charlie, but it is quite late now. I really must be going.”
“Oh, okay, I…” Charlie struggled for the words, not sure how to fix the broken moment between them. “I understand. No problem. Thank you again for you all your help, and your company. Maybe I’ll see you again some time?”
“Maybe,” Draco agreed, his mind clearly already elsewhere.
Charlie forced a smile and just gave a small wave to the blond as Draco turned and disappeared into the crowd.
He had enjoyed Draco’s company more than he had anticipated. Draco was witty and honest to a fault, not to mention pleasing to the eye. Truthfully, Charlie was half tempted to run after him, so he might be able to try and chase away the cloud of loneliness that seemed to be consuming him, but he didn’t think Draco would appreciate that.
So instead, Charlie made sure he had all his purchases securely on his person, and headed back toward the Leaky Cauldron, intending to head home, determined he would find a way to see the blond again, and soon.
Chapter 4: Wrapping Paper
“Two hours, Ron, that’s all I need!” Hermione insisted with exasperation, as she chased him through their home, her expression frazzled. “Two hours and then you can come home.”
“Okay, okay!” Ron agreed as he hopped his way across their small living room, pulling on his second boot as he went.
Reaching the fireplace, he snatched up a pinch of floo powder from the pot on the mantelpiece.
“Look, I’m going, love,” he exclaimed. “Practically gone already!”
“Thank you!” Hermione all but breathed out, tugging her fingers through her hair, which was extra frizzy and sticking up in even more directions than usual. “I love you but…” She gesticulated wildly at the house around them.
The precise meaning was somewhat lost on Ron. However, his wife had already made it perfectly clear she needed him out of the way so she could complete the hundred and one things which supposedly needed doing to their home. She had spent the last two day running around, hanging ornaments and lights, cleaning, and baking more than he’d ever seen her cook in the entire time he’d known her. To Ron, everything was already more or less perfect, but according to Hermione, there was more to be done.
He had never understood why Christmas had to be this complicated but given it was their first one together as a married couple, and he knew it was in his best interests to keep Hermione happy, he wasn’t about to argue the issue.
“I love you too,” he told her sweetly.
Throwing the powder into the already flickering flames, he stepped into the now-green fire.
“The Burrow,” he instructed, Hermione and their living room disappearing from sight as he was sent twisting through the floo network toward his childhood home.
As he stepped out of the fireplace at the other end, however, he was only mildly surprised to discover the living room suffering from a similar inundation of Christmas. The walls were strewn with the usual decorations, of course, as they had been every year of his life. But what he hadn’t expected was multicoloured mass of wrapping paper that was covering every inch of the floor.
Charlie was sat on the floor across from him, completely focused on tying a few ribbons carefully around presents he had already wrapped. At his side were several half empty bags, presumably containing gifts still left to sort. And Harry, who he was rather surprised to find there at all, was over by the armchair and seemed to be having issues as he battled noisily against the wrapping paper.
Ron stood quietly by the fireplace and watched for a moment, enjoying his friend’s suffering in a way only a best friend truly could.
Thankfully he had Hermione to manage the wrapping of presents now, or he almost certainly would have found himself in a similar predicament. As it was, he knew all their presents were already wrapped and ready for Christmas Day, thanks to Hermione’s impressive organisational skills and his willingness to let her take charge.
“Oh hey, Ron!” Harry exclaimed happily, as he finally won his battle against a particularly stubborn piece of tape and finally noticed him; though he made no attempt to extract himself from beneath the mass of wrapping paper.
Charlie looked up at Harry’s words, he blinked at Ron in surprise for half a second before smiling warmly.
“Hi, Ron,” he greeted. “Welcome to the party.”
“Thanks,” Ron said uncertainly.
“Didn’t know you were joining us,” Harry remarked as he tore off another long piece of tape.
“Didn’t know there was anything to join,” Ron countered, as he stepped carefully manoeuvred the mess in front of Charlie. “Seems like your having all the fun without me.”
Finding a safe spot where he wasn’t going to accidentally crush anything, he flopped down on the sofa.
“Oh yeah, so much fun,” Harry remarked sarcastically as he attempted to stick the tape onto the awkwardly shaped box he was almost done wrapping.
Patting the wrinkled paper more or less flat, Harry gave it an appraising look. He shrugged and made a soft dismissive sound, before adding it to a stack of already haphazardly wrapped presents leaning against the side of the armchair. Wrapping presents would never be one of Harry talents.
“I thought I heard…” his mother was already saying as she came into the room, drying her hands on a tea towel. “Ron,” she said as she spotted him on the sofa. She quickly shook off her surprise. “We weren’t expecting you today. Is everything all right?”
“Yeah, everything’s fine,” Ron assured her quickly, not wanting her to worry. Can’t a guy just visit his family?”
“Oh, of course, you can, sweetheart,” she said, waving off his teasing. “You know you’re always welcome. How about I bring you all some tea and biscuits?” she offered. “It’s about time you boys take a break from all this anyway.”
With only a small frown at the mess Charlie and Harry were making of their wrapping, and without waiting for a response from any of them, she hurried back off toward the kitchen.
“Just visiting your family?” Harry questioned knowingly, the corner of his mouth quirking into a teasing smile.
Ron smirked. “Sure, why not.”
Charlie scoffed, leaning back against the wall and taking a break. “More likely you’re avoiding something.”
“Yeah, what’s Hermione trying to drag you into now?” Harry asked.
“Nothing!” Ron insisted. “She’s just decided to go all out on the Christmas stuff this year. Pretty sure she’s trying to replicate Hogwarts in our home or something.”
“So you figured you’d hide out here until the hard work is done?” Charlie questioned teasingly.
“Nah, more like I was chased out of my own home. Honestly, she’s a menace.”
“You’re the one who thought it was a good idea to marry her,” Harry pointed out unsympathetically as he selected a book from the pile of unwrapped present. “Besides, you’ve been living together since Hogwarts. You already knew what she was like.”
“True,” he admitted.
“Brought it on yourself little brother,” Charlie added with an amused grin.
“Yeah. But she’s also pretty amazing.” Ron sighed wistfully. “Her happiness is always worth it. Even at the expense of my sanity.”
“That’s actually kinda sweet,” Harry informed him.
“You’ll see,” Ron said smugly. “I bet Theo will do all sorts of stuff that’ll drive you crazy when you guys finally move in together. But you’ll still be glad you did it.”
“Probably,” Harry admitted.
“Something you’ve been thinking about?” Charlie asked him curiously.
Harry paused in what he was doing and took a deep breath, his brow furrowing as he gave the question serious thought.
Ron sat up, giving his best friend his full attention. He knew things were going well between Harry and Theo but he hadn’t realised that they were getting so serious. He was almost surprised to realise he was actually happy for him. The Slytherin had kind of grown on him, he supposed.
“Just something Andromeda mentioned the other day,” Harry told them. “I don’t know if we’re there yet, but…”
“You’ve been thinking about it?” Ron suggested uncertainly.
“Yeah,” Harry agreed. “Kinda. Maybe.”
“If it helps, moving in with Hermione was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made,” Ron told him. “We might get on each others’ nerves sometimes, but being able to do all the little stuff together… totally worth it, mate. Trust me.”
“I wish I had someone to move in with,” Charlie grumbled half-heartedly. “Living with Mum is getting old fast.”
“Perhaps you could move in with Malfoy,” Harry suggested with a teasing grin.
“What!?” Ron exclaimed, horrified at the very suggestion. “Why would he do that?” he demanded to know, before rounding on Charlie without waiting for an answer. “Why would you do that?”
“I wouldn’t. Harry’s just joking,” Charlie assured him easily. “Honestly, I barely even know the guy.”
“Maybe, but I hear the two of you had quite a lovely afternoon shopping together the other day,” Harry countered with an amused smile.
“Draco referred to it as ‘quite a lovely afternoon’?” Charlie asked, obviously sceptical; though Ron was almost certain he heard hopefulness in his tone.
“I’m paraphrasing,” Harry admitted with an unrepentant shrug. “But Theo did say Malfoy was in a disturbingly good mood that evening, and admitted to spending much of the day with you in Diagon Alley.”
Ron’s gaze flicked between his brother and his friend as they spoke, trying to process what he was hearing because it sounded worryingly like his brother had willingly spent quite a considerable amount of time in Malfoy’s company. And what’s more, Harry seemed to be encouraging it.
“You went shopping with Malfoy?” he managed to sputter out after several moments.
Charlie’s ears tinged pink and Ron’s confused horror only grew. He wasn’t stupid enough to miss what Harry was implying about Malfoy and Charlie, but he hadn’t expected there to be any truth behind the suggestion. He knew that blush reaction though, he had seen it on many of his siblings, on multiple occasions.
“We bumped into each other while queueing to buy chestnuts,” Charlie explained.
“Quaint,” Harry remarked teasingly, his wrapping pushed to one side for the moment while he gave Charlie’s story his full attention.
Ron too wanted to know exactly how his brother had ended up suckered in by a Slytherin, and the worst of them all too. He had only just got used to Theo being around on a regular basis, he didn’t think he could ever get used to dealing with Malfoy more than once in a blue moon.
Charlie shot Harry a look but continued on regardless.
“I remembered what you and Theo had been saying about how lonely he’s been, and he hadn’t seemed so bad when I spoke to him at the tree revealing ceremony. So, I dunno...” Charlie shrugged dismissively. “I asked him to join me.”
“And he just agreed, simple as that?” Harry questioned, obviously surprised.
“Well, I might have bribed him with freshly roasted chestnuts,” Charlie admitted with a grin. “And that’s not a euphemism, so you can drag your filthy mind out of the gutter, Harry Potter.“
Harry chuckled in a way that all but confirmed he had been thinking exactly what Charlie had accused him of, and Ron shuddered at the implication. He didn’t ever want to think about such things, not when they involved either his brother or Malfoy, let alone both.
“I’m not sure exactly what convinced him but yeah, he just agreed,” Charlie went on, seemingly obvious to Ron’s suffering. “I told him he could help me pick out presents for people, give me his honest opinion on my selections…”
“There you go, then, you gave him a chance to criticise stuff,” Ron pointed out grumpily, gesturing toward Charlie before crossing his arms over his chest. “Malfoy would never give up a chance to be a complete arse.”
“Seriously, Ron?” Harry asked with exasperation, laughing as he shook his head.
“You’ll probably be surprised to learn that he was actually very helpful,” Charlie informed them. “Draco has a real talent for selecting the perfect gift.”
Ron scoffed, struggling to imagine Malfoy ever willingly helping anyone, least of all a Weasley. The expression on Harry’s face showed similar disbelief.
“He even helped me find something for Harry, here, and we all know how difficult he is to buy for.”
“Hey! I’m not that bad,” Harry protested.
Ron, however, wasn’t going to touch that one with a broomstick, even if he hadn’t been reeling from revelations about Malfoy and Charlie. So he just continued to blink sceptically at his older brother.
“Honestly, guys,” Charlie went on firmly, “he was the perfect gentleman all afternoon.”
“Who’s a perfect gentleman?” their mother asked curiously, as she returned to the living room, with a tray carrying three freshly filled teacups and a large plate of biscuits. “Did you finally find yourself a nice young man, Charlie?”
“He found himself a Malfoy,” Harry informed her smugly before anyone else had the chance to speak up.
“Oh! Really?” their mother exclaimed in surprise as she placed the tray down on a side table. She hummed thoughtfully, nodding as he took it from her. “Well, he is very handsome,” she remarked as she began to pour tea into each of the cups.
“Surely you can’t approve!” Ron exclaimed incredulously, throwing his arms in the air and slumping back on the sofa.
“Ron...” Harry implored.
“I approve of any of my children finding happiness,” their mother stated curtly as she took the first of the cup of tea over to Charlie, smiling at him fondly as she handed it over.
Ron felt himself flushing a little under his mother’s chastising tone. Of course he wanted Charlie to be happy, he just didn’t understand how that could be possible if he was with Malfoy.
“I know our two families have not always had the best history with each other,” she went on, as she picked up a second cup. She fixed her youngest with a pointed, no-nonsense stare as she brought him his tea. “However, from all I can tell, he is a young man who has lost just as much as any of us. And if Charlie can see good in this boy…”
“I can,” Charlie stated confidently.
“...then that is good enough for me,” their mother finished sternly, handing him the cup in her hands before turning to Charlie. “Whatever makes you happy, sweetheart,” she told him.
There was a slightly awkward, tense silence while she handed Harry his tea, and she placed a generous plate of biscuits on the coffee table in front of Ron before bustling off to the kitchen once more.
Ron helped himself to a biscuit and leaned back into the couch once more.
“Well that told me,” he remarked once he was sure they were alone once more.
“Serves you right for being an insufferable prat,” Charlie told him, though his half smile reassured Ron that he hadn’t actually upset his brother.
“Yeah, you should probably let go of some of those old prejudices, mate,” Harry told him with a wry smile.
“Yeah, yeah, I get it,” Ron admitted. “Everyone’s grown up but me. It’s just… He might not be all evil and that, like his old man was, but… he’s still a complete git.”
“Yeah, he is still kind of a git,” Harry admitted with a laugh. “Becomes part of his charm after a while, in a way. It stops being quite so loathsome anyway.”
Ron scrunched up his nose at the reminder that even Harry didn’t hate Malfoy anymore.
“He’s actually got a pretty wicked sense of humour,” Charlie informed them, “even if most of it comes out as snark. But then I always did have a taste for fiery creatures.”
“Oh yeah,” Harry said with another laugh, “guess you really do have a thing for dragons.”
“Guess so,” Charlie agreed, his ears pinking once more. “And like Mum said, he really is very handsome.”
“Sounds like you better start getting used to him, Ron,” Harry said with a devilish smirk, “because Malfoy might be your git of a brother-in-law soon.”
“Don’t even joke about that,” Ron said sternly, turning to glare at his best friend.
“Not any time soon at least!” Charlie exclaimed with amused exasperation. “We’re not even dating yet.”
“Yet! See, Ron, at least you have time to get used to the idea before it happens,” Harry teased.
“Freakin’ Malfoy,” Ron said with a groan, Harry and Charlie to both laughing at his expense.