~30 Days before Christmas~
Ron Weasley was seated at his desk, reading through a case file when a whole tangle of tinsel dropped in front of him.
He looked up to see Draco Malfoy looming over him, smirking while his eyes sparkled with a mixture of joy and mischievousness. Ron was immediately alert. After being partnered to Draco for more than a year and a half, he had come to associate that particular look as Draco's trademark up-to-no-good-slash-sure-sign-of-childish-behaviour expression.
"Erm…What's this about then?" He asked.
Draco smiled brightly. Ron noticed that his teeth were exceptionally white and perfect.
Draco frowned. "Christmas! Something we celebrate every December? Surely you remember such a festive occasion?"
Ron was certain that his partner had gone completely insane. "I know, but isn't it a bit too soon? There’s nearly a month till Christmas."
Draco's mouth dropped. "Ronald Weasley, I can't believe you! A month is already too short a time to get ready for Christmas! Thank god I've finished buying all the presents by October."
It was Ron’s turn to look flabbergasted. "Draco, don't tell me you're one of those lunatics who are crazy about Christmas?"
Draco's glare could freeze even ice itself. "How rude, I'm not a lunatic, Christmas is an important event, and everything must be perfect! Now, get your lazy arse off that chair and help me decorate our office!"
Ron groaned, but made to get up, knowing that there's no arguing with Draco when the man had that almost maniacal gleam in his eyes.
It was then that Harry burst into the room, grinning brightly, "Mate! Fancy accompanying me on a trip to Diagon Alley tomorrow? I still haven't bought any presents, and I figured that you could at least help me with Hermione's. Merlin, Christmas is just so troublesome."
Draco's scandalized gasp was loud and clear.
Ron groaned again and dropped his head back onto the desk with a resounding thud.
~25 Days before Christmas~
"Malfoy's crazy, Ron! You know what he did? He forced me to go on a present-shopping spree with him last weekend, claiming that I was an utter imbecile for not getting my presents ready! He's the freaking lunatic who's obsessed about Christmas!"
Ron nodded, not lifting his head up from his paperwork, it was due that day and he still hadn't finished it. Harry had been ranting to him about Draco ever since Draco started yelling at him five days ago for being a 'lazy, Christmas-hating slob' and then decreed himself as Harry's personal Christmas-makeover specialist.
Harry had shouted back something along the more polite lines of Draco being a 'spoilt, Christmas-obsessed freak' in the end, needless to say, Draco had been ranting about Harry to Ron too.
"Eight hours! Eight freaking hours! And I had to listen to him nag me about my poor choices in presents! Every gift has to be perfect, he says, what's wrong with buying gift coupons anyway?"
Ron kept on nodding. Harry had been giving academic books to Hermione for five years, Quidditch supplies to Ron for six, and everyone else gift coupons when he didn't know what they wanted for four years. It was well known that Harry Potter was many things, but a great gift-giver he was not.
"And he's not even that focused on helping me choose my presents anyway!" Harry's tone was now more petulant than grudging, and Ron's ears perked up even as he continued to scribble away on the parchment. "We spent nearly an hour in Flourish and Blotts, and he spent most of the time flirting with that slimy shopkeeper. Kept asking about his opinion and suggestions for books. Why can't we just find the bloody books ourselves?"
Now this was interesting. Ron finally looked up. "Um, Harry, isn't the current shopkeeper of Flourish and Blotts Christopher Hanks? The six foot tall, auburn-haired, drop dead gorgeous Adonis of a man who was listed as Witch Weekly's 10 Most Eligible Bachelor In The Wizarding World for a consecutive three years?"
Harry's nostrils flared. "So? I'm at the top of that list for eight years now, by your logic, shouldn't Malfoy be flirting with me instead? Well guess what, Hanks was all over him, and Malfoy was just eating up the attention. Bloody wanker."
Ron blinked. "Harry, are you jealous?"
"What? Are you out of your mind? Why would I be jealous because of Draco Malfoy, of all people?" The tips of his ears were red, and Ron's eyes widened.
Draco chose that exact moment to burst into the room, all bright eyed and happy. There was a flush to his cheeks, and his hair was tousled, for once not in its usual impeccable state. Ron noticed that Harry was now openly staring at Draco, and definitely not in a bad way.
Draco grinned suddenly, "Ron! Potter! It's snowing outside, first snow of the year!"
Rushing forward and pulling both Ron and Harry up, he said: "Come on, it's snowing! Be more excited!"
Ron shrugged off Draco's hand. "Maybe because we aren't Christmas addicts like you?" But he went and took his scarf and coat anyway. Draco gave him a very uncharacteristic wrinkle of his nose. But his smile did not fade. Harry was still staring at Draco, as if this was the first time he had ever seen the man.
"Potter! Are you daydreaming? Come on, it's snowing!" Draco began pulling at Harry's arm.
Harry jolted, and blushed. "Erm, I don't have my coat with me..."
Draco rolled his eyes. "Honestly, Potter, have you forgotten that you're a wizard? There's something called Warming Charms, remember?"
Harry frowned. "Well, it's a bloody nuisance to keep recasting them every fifteen minutes."
Draco heaved a deep sigh, and in a swift move, removed the cream-coloured scarf he was wearing and moved forward to wrap it around Harry's neck. "There. Now cease your whining."
Harry looked almost dazed as he followed Draco out, and Ron chuckled lightly as he locked the door to his office.
He knew, as a basic requirement for an Auror, Harry can cheat, manipulate, trick and lie without even batting an eyelash. But whenever he tried to lie to someone that really knew him, he just couldn’t do it without feeling guilty, and the tips of his ears will turn red.
Whistling a cheery tune, Ron stuffed his hands in his pocket and trailed after the both of them.
~15 Days before Christmas~
This, Ron reckoned, was exactly like watching those ball matches that Hermione so loved to watch on the television. Badminton, tennis, table tennis…His eyes were now swerving like the spectators who watched the ball so avidly in such competitions.
Harry was seated in front of his desk, but with the chair angled so that he was actually facing Draco instead. Harry thought that he was being discrete, but really, Ron hadn't been best friends with him for more than ten years without knowing him well.
Harry had been coming to his and Draco's office for the past week now. At first, he only came during lunch break, but when he learnt that Draco had been asked out to a lunch date with Christopher on the third day, he began showing up during mornings. When asked, he claimed that it was too quiet in his office since Luna was on maternity leave, and he felt odd sitting alone doing his paperwork. But Ron hadn't missed how Harry had started insisting that they all have lunch together.
Ron definitely didn't miss how Draco had turned down two more lunch dates with Christopher, and he seemed oddly perky for the past few days. Draco may be good at putting up his detached and sarcastic Malfoy persona, but Ron had been partnered with him long enough to notice that he was smiling and laughing more, mostly whenever Harry was around.
Of course, they bickered all the time. They wouldn't be Harry and Draco if they didn't. Ron noticed their bickering was getting more and more as if they were going through the motions, sometimes even bordering on flirtatious, rather than genuinely wanting to tear each other's throats out. Sometimes, they would start bickering, and end up chatting to one another instead.
There was no other way to say it: It was bizarre.
Ron might have gone mad if he hadn't ranted to Hermione. But as much as he wanted to just lock both Harry and Draco in one room, or just trap them under an enchanted mistletoe, Hermione had stated some psychological facts that she’d read in a counseling book, claiming that they had to let Harry and Draco work things out by themselves, and that meddling would just make things worse.
Hermione's orders were explicit. Interfere, and he would find himself sleeping on the couch for a month.
So, as much as he wanted to just get rid of all this unresolved sexual tension in the office whenever Harry and Draco were around, he had no choice but to sit back and watch, which was precisely what he was doing.
Today, Draco had gotten a box of candy canes and was now determined to polish off every single one of them.
He was now on his fifth. Ron had already memorized the sequence of the scene that would play out when he started on the sixth.
Draco would start by peeling off the wrapper of the candy, and Harry's head would immediately snap up, which would then quickly drop back down to whatever Harry was reading or doing at the moment, for fear that Ron and Draco would catch him staring.
Draco would then start to lick at the top of the candy cane, and Harry would not be able to resist sneaking a few glances.
After the top had been eaten off, Draco would then start sucking on the remaining candy cane stick, his cheeks would hollow out whenever he sucked particularly hard, and he would then pull the candy out with a slurping noise. The sucking motion would be repeated.
By this stage, Harry was mostly unable to resist looking up and stare dazedly at Draco for a moment, before blushing and ducking his head in guilt and embarrassment while pretending to read the documents. Of course, the cycle would then repeat itself.
It was utterly fascinating and hilarious to watch. Ron might be utterly straight, but he knew just how obscene Draco's actions were, and he couldn't help but wonder if Draco was innocent, or if he was being all Slytherin and trying to seduce Harry.
But whichever it was, it was working. Even though Ron knew that he was sometimes too obtuse for his own good, judging by Harry's hungry look as he eyed Draco, Ron would bet good money that it wasn't the candy cane that Harry wanted.
~7 Days before Christmas~
"Crap, I forgot to bring my gloves today! It's bloody freezing out there!"
Ron and Harry both looked up.
"You can just go back and take it." Ron said.
Draco rolled his eyes. "In case you've forgotten, Weasley, we are on schedule to stake out the Ratchet case today. We have to be there in five minutes, I don't have time to go back."
"Shit. Is that today? I forgot all about it." Ron scrambled up from his seat, rushing to put on his gloves and fasten the ties on his cloak.
Draco sighed. "Guess I'll just stuff my hands in my pockets then. And you're helping me cast warming charms."
"Fine, fine. Now hurry up." Ron began to search for his omniculars in the drawers.
Harry was frowning. "Malfoy, you can't honestly expect to stay outside in the snow for the whole night, you'll freeze your hands off."
"Well, I don't have a choice, do I?" Draco snapped back, he looked both annoyed and angry at himself.
Harry stood up. "Wait." He turned and pulled out a pair of dark green mittens from his coat where it was draped over the chair. "Here, take mine."
Draco looked gobsmacked. "Potter, I can't take yours!"
"Why not? It might be a bit loose, but it would fit. It's got warming charms on them too; Hermione gave them to me last Christmas."
"But how about you?"
Harry shrugged. "It's fine. I'll be going straight back home tonight, I won't have any use for them."
Draco's eyes narrowed. "Potter, if I remembered correctly, your house is still a ten minute walk from your area’s Apparition point. You'll need these."
"Oh, just take them would you?" Harry shoved them towards Draco, staring straight into his eyes.
Draco sighed. "Potter—Harry," Green eyes widened, "I can't take them. I'll be fine, don't worry."
For a moment, they looked right back at one another. Ron wanted to scream: Just snog him already!
Then Harry moved forward and tugged Draco's arms up, pulling the mittens on his hands in an almost tender and caring manner. "Stop being such a Gryffindor all of a sudden and just wear them okay? I don't want you to freeze." Harry mumbled, blushing fiercely as he did so.
Draco's cheeks dusted a faint pink, and his eyes were soft as he looked at Harry. "Thank you." His voice came out breathy and reverent, and Harry was staring back at him again.
Ron felt like he was intruding upon an intimate and beautiful moment. He wanted nothing more than to be able to leave both Harry and Draco alone, but he knew that any movement from him would definitely break the spell.
Instead, he took a glance at the clock (who cares, they can be late for a few minutes), stood back silently, and waited.
~4 Days before Christmas~
A swig of the Firewhisky in his hand.
"Ron?" A voice called to him by his side.
"I think I'm in love with Draco."
Gulp. "I don't think he likes me back."
"No, really, we fight all the time, he keeps avoiding me recently, and I think he's in love with that bloody gorgeous Christopher from Flourish and Blotts." Harry's words were slurred, his bottle of almost empty liquor tilted to the side as he gestured about, spilling onto the carpet below.
That would be a tad bit difficult to explain to Hermione when she came back from her conference in Japan tomorrow.
"Harry, I think you should have a bit more confidence in yourself. You should tell Draco, mate." Ron replied, feeling awfully proud that he hadn't said ‘Just kiss him senseless, you both are bloody idiots!’ See, he could be tactful if he wanted to.
Harry shook his head. "No. No. Draco doesn't like me, he doesn't, no point embarrassing myself."
"No, don't say it Ron. Did you see how happy he was with Christopher's gift today? The man bought him one of the rarest Potions journals with Snape's first ever published thesis inside it. He looked so happy, so gorgeous."
Ron sat up. "Harry, I think you've a bit too much to drink."
Harry cradled the bottle of Firewhisky to his chest protectively. "I'm not drunk. You know what I bought him for Christmas Ron? I bought him a kitten! A stupid kitten! How can that ever compete with what Christopher gave him? Oh god, how can I be so stupid?"
Ron resisted the urge to beat some sense into his friend. He knew for a fact that Draco had wanted a cat forever, but never dared to have one, something about ruining his image as a heartless bastard if he went and bought a fluffy kitten. Personally, Ron thought that it was utter bollocks, that stupid Malfoy pride.
"Harry," He began, but a light snore told him that Harry had already fallen asleep.
With a sigh, he took away the bottle from Harry's hand, and covered him with a blanket.
He really hoped that everything would work itself out before Christmas.
~3 Days before Christmas~
Draco was positively glaring daggers into his sister's back. If looks could kill, Ginny would have been dead a hundred times already.
"Oi, stop glaring at my sister." Ron poked him.
Draco swatted his hand and looked away from where Ginny was chatting with Harry while they waited in line to place their order.
"I wasn't glaring at Ginny."
Ron scoffed. "Oh come on, Draco, give me some credit. I know you're jealous because you like Harry."
Draco almost choked on his chai tea. "What? What on earth gave you that idea? I—I'm not in love with Potter! That's preposterous."
Ron's face was serious. "Draco."
Draco looked at him, a moment later, his façade fell, and he looked so dejected and lost all of a sudden. "Is it that obvious?" He asked quietly.
Ron nodded. "Well, at least to me it is."
"No, he doesn't." Draco let out a sigh of relief.
Ron frowned, "Draco, I think you should tell Harry how you feel."
Draco sat up straight, his jaw clenched as he shook his head. "No, Ron. I'm not that deluded, Har—Potter will never like me. Aside from the fact that he's straight, what would he see in the son of a former Death Eater?"
"Draco, we all know that you're not your father okay? We all like you, Harry likes you—"
Draco shook his head. "Well, not like how I like him." Ron opened his mouth to protest, but Draco swiftly cut him off again: "Ron, it's okay. I'll get over him eventually. I don't want to ruin our friendship, so just, don't tell him anything while I work off this crush, alright?"
It was too late. Harry and Ginny were back with their drinks and pastries. A firm but pleading look from Draco held Ron's tongue.
As he watched Draco plaster on a fake smile to greet Ginny, Ron felt his stomach churn even as a headache formed.
Really, this was getting to be too much drama for two guys who are obviously in love with one another, damn it!
~2 Days before Christmas~
"Ron, I'm sorry, but I don't think I can make it to you and Granger's Christmas Eve dinner tomorrow. Would you mind apologizing to her for me?"
Ron frowned. "Why? Did something happen?"
Draco shook his head. "No, it's just—I need some time now, and isn't Potter going tomorrow too? I can't see him, you've got to understand. I—I need to sort out some things first."
"Draco, please, if you and Harry just talk to one another—"
"No, Ron, I'm really sorry. Just, I've got to go, bye."
The line disconnected.
~1 Day before Christmas~
"What do you mean Draco's not coming?" Harry asked.
Ron took a deep breath. He was certain it wasn't good manners to punch his best friend on Christmas Eve. Especially not at his own dinner party and besides, Hermione would murder him if he did so. Instead, he calmed himself, took a large gulp of wine, and replied: "He's not coming."
"Don't know, I think something came up."
Harry's face darkened. "He's meeting with Christopher isn't he? You can tell me, Ron, it's okay." But a moment later, Harry's expression fell and he practically deflated, looking oddly like a kicked puppy.
Ron just wanted to scream.
"Guess Draco likes him after all." Harry mumbled.
Ron swore he could hear his patience snapping. With a loud curse, he spun around and hollered across the room: "MIONE! We bloody did it your way, now excuse me while I don't give a damn and do it MY WAY!"
With that said, he turned, grabbed their cloaks, and dragged a shocked Harry out into the cold night air and apparated outside Draco's house.
He pounded immediately on the door.
"OPEN UP, DRACO! I KNOW YOU'RE IN THERE! OPEN UP!"
A moment later, the door opened. Draco stood there, looking genuinely surprised when he saw Ron and Harry on his doorstep. His hair was disheveled and his eyes were suspiciously red.
Ron cursed again for good measure.
He dragged Harry in front of Draco, took a large step back and reached up to slam something on top of the door frame above them.
It was mistletoe.
Enchanted mistletoe, to be exact.
It immediately formed a bubble surrounding Draco and Harry, trapping them inside.
Ron smirked evilly, satisfied that his plan worked, even as Draco and Harry both turned to him, furious and embarrassed.
Ron silenced them with a menacing glare and a threatening wave of his wand. One did pick up quite a few things when they spend most of their time stuck with a Malfoy and a Slytherin.
In an eerily calm voice, he spoke: "Now, both of you listen to me, and listen to me clearly. Both of you are idiots. Harry, Draco loves you. Draco, Harry loves you." Harry and Draco turned to stare at one another, but there were similarly glimmers of tentative hope in their eyes. Ron smiled. Good, his plan was working marvelously.
"You both love one another. You have been pining after each other for nearly a month now, and frankly, you've both been driving me crazy. Harry, Draco was never attracted to Christopher, only you. Draco, Harry bought you a kitten and has been staring at you like you’re the last treacle tart in the world. You both have been obsessed with one other for as long as I've known the both of you. Now that everything's cleared and we've established that you two are madly in love, I strongly recommend that you kiss each other senseless."
Both Harry and Draco opened their mouths, but Ron cut them off: "You're trap under magical mistletoe, you can't escape if you don't kiss. Now shut up and do it."
Harry and Draco looked at one another, both blushing furiously. Ron just wanted to get this over with.
Leaning forward at the same time, they brushed their noses against one another, and with a slight angle of their heads, Harry and Draco's lips met, with Harry's hand reaching up to cradle the back of Draco's head while Draco's arms wrapped themselves around Harry's shoulders.
With a faint 'pop', the bubble disappeared, and the mistletoe exploded into small heart shaped confetti.
Harry and Draco broke apart at the sound, both staring at one another in amazement and wonder. They were so engrossed in each other, looking so ridiculously happy and in love that Ron felt that just witnessing the scene was giving him cavities.
Harry touched his forehead to Draco's, breathing in deeply. "You're in love with me?" He asked, tone disbelieving and awed.
Draco smirked. "And you're in love with me."
Harry chuckled. "I am."
Draco's face broke into a bright smile. "You bought me a kitten?"
Harry blushed. "Yeah…I know it's stupid…It's okay if you don't like it—"
Draco dragging him in and kissing him as if his life depended on it silenced Harry pretty effectively. "Thank you. I love it." Draco replied, lips brushing against Harry's as he did so.
When they swooped in for another kiss, this one turning heated pretty quickly, with an obvious visual of tongues tangling and fighting for dominance against one another, hands roaming up and down each other's bodies, along with the not so subtle moans and groans, Ron knew that it was time for him to leave.
He turned, preparing to apparate when he glanced back again.
Draco had dragged Harry into his house, their lips still attached to one another, and Ron could see that Harry's hands were already at the hem of Draco's shirt, pushing up against bare skin. Draco was equally frantic, with a hand tugging against the back of Harry's jeans, and another scrambling for purchase on the wooden door as he tried to shut it.
It was quite a bit too much than what he needed to know about two of his best friends, but Ron was grinning as he apparated with a loud crack.
Who said that Hermione was the genius anyway?