The flat seemed unusually quiet for a Saturday. Normally it echoed with the sound of Draco's running commentary on his favourite TV programmes, plus his relentless demands for caffeinated beverages.
Harry smiled to himself as he gazed at the empty sofa. No one would believe that the Draco Malfoy who once reigned over Slytherin house with an iron hand liked nothing better than to spend his Saturdays clad only in his pyjamas, snuggled under a fleecy throw, watching various reality shows interspersed with American sitcoms.
This thought prompted Harry to click the DVD recorder into action. Draco would be peevish enough when he returned from working overtime - missing his favourite shows on top of that would make him almost unbearable.
Harry moved his gaze away from the sofa over to where their Christmas tree now dominated the room. He'd been sceptical at best upon seeing the tree that Draco wanted. But much cajoling and threatened sulks had him acquiescing in no time at all. Now, as he ran his inexpert eye over the ornament-laden branches, Harry was forced to admit that Draco had done an amazing job.
And it wasn't just the tree. There wasn't a part of the flat that had escaped Draco's attention, except for the bathroom, and Harry wasn't entirely convinced that wasn't next on the list.
Harry's own participation had been minimal - Draco was far too dismissive of his creative talents to allow him anywhere near the jewelled baubles, swags of evergreens, or assorted decorations that had been purloined from the Manor. Harry's role had consisted mainly of untangling endless strings of fairy lights and fixing garlands on the walls under Draco's critical, and somewhat dictatorial, eye.
Draco had always enjoyed Christmas. In previous years, Harry had always felt that that enjoyment stemmed more from the prospect of receiving numerous gifts than from any kind of holiday spirit. But this year there was something different about it. This single-minded determination, the constant striving for the perfect Christmas had started even before his parents had announced their impending absence, so Harry couldn't help but wonder what had prompted this festive zeal.
Not that he objected. This year looked like being the closest Harry had come so far to that idyllic Christmas he had watched in films, seen on copious Christmas cards, and dreamt of as he had listened to the sounds of the Dursleys' merriment filling his lonely, cramped cupboard.
Even the years spent at the Burrow, whilst full of fun and good food, had never quite hit the mark. Something was always missing, and he'd never quite shed that feeling of being a guest, of not quite belonging.
This year would be different, he was sure, not only because Draco had made it his personal mission - and Merlin knew that Malfoys always got their own way - but because he would be in his own home, his and Draco's home, surrounded by the people he loved most. It might not have seemed like much to an outsider, but to Harry it meant the world.
And if he chose, in a quiet moment, to imagine that he and Draco were actually a couple celebrating the holidays together rather than just friends, well, he wasn't doing any harm. Draco would never have to know, and the idle daydreams gave Harry many a happy nights' sleep.
Harry had given up all pretence of being ready to move on from Draco, much to Ron's chagrin. Felix's name had been dropped into their conversations on a regular basis, until Harry had politely, but firmly told his best friend to leave it.
Felix himself, no doubt egged on by a well-meaning Ron, had owled him a very sweet note asking him to dinner. Harry had considered it for a split second before his conscience reminded him that it wouldn't be fair to lead someone on who was obviously interested, when his heart was already engaged elsewhere.
So lost was Harry in these musings that he didn't notice the fire in the grate flicker green. Nor did he notice when Hermione emerged from the flames. It wasn't until she crossed the room and placed her hand lightly on his arm that Harry woke to her presence.
"Bloody hell!" Harry pressed one hand to his chest. "You frightened the life out of me."
"You might want to consider locking your Floo occasionally," she told him primly. "Anyone could come waltzing in here."
"We went out for a few drinks last night," Harry replied, as if this explained everything.
Apparently it did. "You let Draco drink cocktails again, didn't you?" There was definitely a hint of accusation behind Hermione's tone.
"I think let is stretching it a bit, Hermione. Have you ever known anyone be able to stop Draco when he's made up his mind? Besides, they had Christmas themed drinks on the menu - I didn't stand a chance."
Hermione nodded, conceding his point. "Who was last night's lucky recipient of the drunken Floo call?"
Harry smirked. "Blaise. Apparently he has the fireplace in his bedroom connected to the Floo network. His...um...companion was less than happy when Draco interrupted them."
"Can't say that I blame her," Hermione said; obviously the memories were still vivid from the times Draco had paid her a call in the wee hours. "You really should put a child lock on that thing." Then, seeing Harry's expression, she clarified "The fireplace, not Draco."
Harry grinned. "Not that I'm not always pleased to see you, but what are you doing here? I thought you were spending the weekend with the in-laws."
"Oh, we are. Right after I'm done here. I just wanted a quick word with Draco - is he up yet?"
"He's been up and gone for a couple of hours. He's working overtime - some public relations crisis apparently."
Hermione snorted softly. "They'll have an even bigger one on their hands if they let a hung-over Malfoy near the press. God only knows what awful things he'll come out with this time."
"C'mon, Hermione, it was just that one time. And you managed to talk the Centaurs around eventually. How was Draco supposed to know that they could understand French?"
Hermione gave a slight shrug and let it go. "I just wanted to give him these," she said, rifling through her handbag and producing a sheaf of glossy leaflets and flyers.
"What's all this?" Harry questioned curiously.
"Just some information he asked me to get."
Harry reached out and took them, glancing briefly at the top one. "This is for church services," he said sceptically.
"It's actually for a concert - it's just being held in a church."
"A concert," Harry repeated. "In a church?"
Hermione scowled at him. "Yes, that's what I said. My parents went last year and loved it. They said the acoustics in there were amazing."
"It's classical music," Harry commented, scanning the leaflet further.
"It's a performance of Handel's Messiah. Draco was really keen when I suggested it to him. There's also some information on Christmas markets, carol concerts, and late-night shopping events."
"Do you have to encourage him?" Harry asked plaintively. "You know he'll make me go with him to all these places. I've already been manipulated into going to some outdoor ice rink later - which I suppose I have you to thank for."
"Honestly, Harry, don't be so miserable. You're starting to sound just like Ron did when we were dating."
"I'll remind you of that when I'm nursing a broken leg," Harry replied gloomily.
Hermione just smiled. "You'll be fine. Just make sure you give those to him. No hiding them down the back of the sofa." Harry tried his best to look injured at the accusation, but it was a little hard to manage when he knew she spoke from past experience. "Talking of Ron," she continued, "I bumped into him yesterday."
"Really?" Harry watched her expectantly - she was never one for idle observations.
"Yes." Hermione clicked her handbag closed and placed it back on her shoulder. "He was going on and on about how he had introduced you to the perfect man, and how you wouldn't even give him a chance. Felix, wasn't it?"
Harry nodded. "Yeah." He waited for the lecture that was sure to follow.
Instead, Hermione gave a sniff of irritation. "It's all a bit rich coming from the man who hasn't had a relationship since we broke up over two years ago."
Harry gaped in surprise. "I thought you'd..."
"What? Agree with him?" Hermione shook her head, now-tamed curls bouncing softly with the movement. "Your private life is just that." She leant forward and pressed a light kiss to his unshaven cheek. "I'd better be off. Anthony's mother will have a fit of the vapours if I'm late."
Harry walked to the fireplace with her and held out the bowl of Floo powder.
"Besides," she continued, stepping into the grate. "I think you're doing the right thing, holding out for the one you really want."
Then there was a whoosh of green flames and Harry was left staring open-mouthed at an empty fireplace.
Usually Draco wasn't one to lie in on the weekends, but he'd made an exception that morning. Alcohol-blurred sleep the night before had done little to help him feel rested. On top of that, he'd been practically forced to spend his precious Saturday in the office trying to minimise the scandal created by some junior Minister sampling the less-than-savoury delights that Knockturn Alley had to offer.
After that, all Draco had really wanted to do was take a hot bath and curl up in bed with the latest episode of X Factor. Instead, he'd spent several hours on an outdoor ice rink watching Harry do a passable impersonation of Bambi on ice.
Draco took a sip of his coffee and chuckled to himself as he remembered Harry's fumbled efforts to stay upright. He almost hadn't minded being pulled down as well, not when it had the added effect of crushing Harry's body against his own.
Though it hadn't been his intention when suggesting it, the evening had seemed almost romantic. The setting sun behind Hampton Court had provided a beautiful backdrop, and Draco had felt his self-control straining to the point where he was on the verge of throwing Harry down on the ground himself - general public be damned.
And considering Harry's apparent level of obliviousness to his feelings, Draco was starting to think it would take that kind of drastic action to wake him up.
Just as Draco was debating the merits of changing out of his pyjamas, the Floo sounded, quickly followed by Blaise's arrival in the kitchen.
Draco's eyes followed his best friend around the room, watching as he scowled darkly and helped himself to a cup of coffee. No words were spoken between them until Blaise was also seated at the table.
"Morning," Draco commented lightly, one brow slightly raised in query.
Blaise grunted something that could -- barely -- pass as a greeting, then put his cup down forcefully and eyed his friend. "I don't suppose you've got room for another body on Christmas Day?"
Draco's other brow shot up in surprise at this. "I don't see why not," he replied measuredly. "But what happened to Christmas in Italy?"
For reply, Blaise slapped a copy of that morning's Prophet down on the table, narrowly avoiding the marmalade.
Draco made a long arm and snagged the paper. Unfolding it, he read the front page with growing concern. It described with gleeful relish the untimely demise of Blaise's stepfather, and the Italian Aurors' hunt for his mother's whereabouts.
"You didn't know?" Draco asked, more for something to say than as a real query, because it was clear from Blaise's face that he hadn't.
"That's the first I heard of it," Blaise responded gruffly. "Shortly followed by a very brief owl from my mother. She thinks I'd be tracked by the Aurors, hence the rescinding of my Christmas invite."
"She's probably right," Draco agreed, taking a long drink of his coffee, and watching his friend carefully over the rim. "I wouldn't put it past them."
Blaise shrugged. "I guess." He paused and fiddled aimlessly with the salt cellar. "I'm not surprised," he blurted out suddenly. "I mean, it was bound to catch up with her eventually."
"These things have a way of doing that," Draco agreed.
"I've always known what she is," Blaise continued. "I've heard what people say about her, and I know a lot of it's true."
Draco just nodded - really, what else could he do? Aurora Zabini was notorious the wizarding world over. The only wonder was that she could still find willing...victims.
"But she's my mother, you know?"
And Draco nodded again, because he did know, only too well, what it was like to have an infamous parent. One who seemed heartless and cruel to the outside world, but who was loving and kind to his son. Lucius Malfoy might be a cold-hearted killer to most, but to Draco he was still the man he had grown up idolising. And not even the destruction his actions had brought to their family name could change that.
They sat in thoughtful silence for the next few minutes. Only the occasional clink of cup against saucer broke the quiet.
Eventually Draco got up. Stretching his aching muscles, he let out a groan as they protested the motion vociferously.
"Hard night?" Blaise teased, and Draco was relieved to notice a faint smile curving his lips, even though it came at his expense.
"Harry and I went ice skating," he answered shortly.
Blaise let out a low chuckle. "How romantic. Did you skate around hand in hand?" Draco fixed him with a meaningful glare that Blaise chose to ignore. "Was Potter aware he was on a date?"
"Shut up, Blaise." Draco scowled.
"Oh, come on, Draco. D'you really think he'd do things like that with you if he weren't in the slightest bit interested? Why don't you just tell him? What's the worst that could happen?"
"Blaise," Draco began through clenched teeth. "We're Slytherins. We don't blurt out our feelings like some first year Hufflepuff. We plan and scheme to get what we want."
Blaise shook his head. "School's over. There are no Gryffindors and Slytherins in the real world. Only people. Do us all a favour and just come clean."
Whatever Draco might have said in response died on his lips at the sound of the front door opening, followed by Harry's voice.
"Draco! You in? Have you seen this morning's paper? It's..." Harry entered the kitchen and immediately spotted their guest. "Oh, hi, Blaise," he said awkwardly.
"Harry," Blaise replied, then returned his attention to his coffee.
"Yes, Harry, we've seen it. We'll need to set another place for Christmas dinner - Blaise will be joining us."
"Okay," Harry replied, setting his shopping bags down on the worktop. "It might be a tight squeeze round the table, but the more the merrier, right? There'll still be plenty of food to go round - I always cater for large numbers when Ron's invited."
Draco didn't reply - he was too busy scanning the contents of the numerous carrier bags. "What's this?" he demanded suddenly, thrusting the offending item at Harry. "And this!" he added, producing another.
Harry leant closer and inspected the boxes. "Stuffing," he replied, pointing to the first one. "And I believe the other one's bread sauce."
"From a packet?" Draco's voice rose to almost a shriek, so much so that even he found himself wincing.
"Well, yes," Harry answered defensively. "Where did you expect them to come from?"
"From fresh. You make them, not use this rehydrated crap."
"Like you've ever made bread sauce," Blaise commented.
Draco fixed him with a glare. "You know, they say Christmas is a terrible time to spend alone," he snarled, before turning back to Harry with a smile.
"Seriously, I can't eat this. Mopsy, our old house-elf, makes the best stuffing ever. It's bad enough I can't spend the day with my parents, but it just won't feel like Christmas if we have this." He wound up with a slight pout which had a disturbing effect on Harry's peace of mind.
"Fine." Harry huffed, snatching the packets and stuffing them back in the bags. "I'll make them. But you're helping."
Draco was all sweetness now. "Of course I'll help." He beamed, choosing to ignore Blaise's disbelieving snort. "In fact, I'll Floo over to the Manor right now and get you the recipes."
He was gone from the room before Harry had chance to protest that this wasn't quite the help he had in mind.
A low chuckle sounded from the table. "Could you be any more whipped, Potter?"
Harry shook his head. "Tell me something I don't know."
The concerts Harry could tolerate. In fact, if he was honest, he quite enjoyed them, and found himself humming various carols throughout his working day.
The shopping however, was something he could definitely live without. He considered it torture at the best of times and Draco usually had the sense to leave him at home, but suddenly all that changed and attendance became mandatory. He spent several stressful evenings fighting his way around crowded Muggle department stores, being elbowed and jostled at every turn. For someone usually so concerned about his personal space, and certainly about close contact with Muggles, Draco remained remarkably unfazed by it.
Normally Harry dreaded shopping at Christmas more than any other time, simply because he could never think what to get Draco. His flatmate had just about everything he could possibly want, and enough money to buy the rest. For someone with Harry's limited present-buying skills, this usually presented something of a problem. This year Harry was feeling slightly smug, however. Draco's present was already bought, wrapped, and hidden away at Hermione's house where Draco's Accio spells could not affect it. And for once, Harry was fairly confident that he would love it.
As the main event loomed nearer, the cupboards in their kitchen bulged with various foodstuffs. Harry had been intent on cooking a standard Christmas dinner, but the menu grew alarmingly due to the many extras that Draco insisted were essentials in the effort to recreate his usual Christmas Day. Harry began to suspect that even Ron would struggle to consume the volume of food that would be on offer - even after he had talked Draco out of having a fish course.
But despite all the hard work that he knew was ahead of him, Harry was looking forward to this Christmas with an almost childlike glee. And Draco, too, was beyond excited at the prospect.
There was hardly a bare surface or wall left in their flat, such was the extent of Draco's decorations. Harry had to admit he'd done a good job. All the colours coordinated; it looked like something out of one of those home magazines that Aunt Petunia had been obsessed with. Secretly, Harry's favourite part was the large silver star atop their tree. Made by Teddy Lupin, Harry had been very surprised when Draco consented to use it without even a murmur of protest. It didn't necessarily match the rest of the decor, and was a little lopsided, but the fact that his godson had made it for him, made Harry love it all the more.
One thing Harry had to admit was that Draco had opened his eyes to new experiences, things he would have never considered doing before. A prime example of this was the last outing they went on before Christmas – a classical music concert.
Harry had been sceptical when he’d first seen the leaflet in Hermione’s hand, and even less keen when Draco had suggested they attend. Fun to Harry was a night in the Leaky with his mates, or a Saturday game of Quidditch. It did not, in any way, include spending an evening in a draughty church listening to music that had no lyrics, and no discernable beat.
However, Draco had wanted to go, and in a pattern that had become all too familiar to Harry throughout their friendship, Harry was unable to say no. There was very little he wouldn’t endure to be the one who made Draco smile.
The church itself was beautiful. Harry knew virtually nothing about architectural styles, but even he could appreciate the picture it made, brightly lit against the dark city sky, the lights of the surrounding Christmas trees twinkling merrily.
Hermione had clearly been reading up on its history, and insisted on relentlessly imparting snippets of information to them. Harry nodded politely, long used to faking interest in Hermione’s lecturing, Anthony managed to show slightly more interest, having more of a vested interest in appeasing his wife, but Draco was far too enthralled by the sights of Trafalgar Square to pay her any heed.
Although he had scoffed at it, classical music was not really something with which Harry was familiar. The Dursleys weren’t exactly cultured, for all his Aunt Petunia’s pretensions to the contrary, and it wasn’t like music figured on the curriculum at Hogwarts.
But there was something about the combination of setting, time of year, music, and the look of sheer joy on Draco’s face that had Harry revising his previously held prejudices.
The swell of the music as it reached out to every corner of the building gave Harry goose bumps. He didn’t fully understand it, but he could hear the pathos and emotion resonating loud and clear with every note and as he looked to the side, could see it reflected in Draco’s face also.
Acting completely on instinct, Harry reached out with his hand and covered Draco’s, which was resting on his thigh. He watched Draco intently for some form of reaction, but the expression on his face remained the same. Just as Harry was about to pull away, Draco turned his hand palm up and laced their fingers together.
Harry had to remind himself several times to breathe. The effect the music was having on him paled into insignificance in comparison to the feelings that raced through him at the simple act of holding Draco’s hand. And neither of them let go. Not as they exited the church under Hermione’s gleeful gaze, nor in the taxi ride across London. Even the short walk along Diagon Alley did not cause them to separate.
It was only upon arrival back at their flat, when they were confronted with a drunken Pansy Parkinson sprawled outside their front door, that Draco let Harry’s hand fall.
“Pansy!" Draco strode forward and confronted his drunken friend. "What the...?”
Pansy let out something halfway between a laugh and a sob and took another swig from the bottle of wine she was clutching.
“I think maybe we should leave you to it. We’ll have coffee another time,” Hermione murmured to Harry as they stood back a prudent distance.
“Coward,” he accused. He leant in and kissed her on the cheek. “I don’t blame you really. I’ll see you on Christmas Day.”
Hermione nodded, and then began digging in her handbag. “I almost forgot,” she said, handing over a piece of parchment.
Harry unfolded it curiously and read. His eyes widened in surprise. “You did it?”
“Of course,” she replied, in a tone that clearly said ‘was there ever any doubt?’
Harry pulled her into a brief hug. “Have I told you lately how utterly brilliant you are?”
“You may have mentioned it once or twice, but it always bears repeating.” She grinned. “That ought to win you a few brownie points,” she teased, glancing over to where Draco was hauling an uncooperative Pansy to her feet. “Not that you need the help judging from tonight.”
Harry flushed and fidgeted awkwardly with the paper in his hand, but was saved from having to come up with a reply by Draco's call for help.
“Harry! Do you think you could give me a hand here? She’s like a dead weight.”
Harry turned round to see Draco, one arm struggling to keep Pansy upright, while the other fumbled to open the door. He looked back at his friends. “I’d better go,” he said ruefully. “I’ll see you two on Wednesday.”
Between them Harry and Draco managed to get a struggling Pansy inside their flat and into the spare room, where it was clear she would need to spend the night. At this point Harry left Draco to it. Pansy appeared to be teetering somewhere between manic laughter and hysterical crying, and Harry rather suspected that while she would not object to Draco seeing her in that state, come the morning she would be less than pleased at the prospect that he had witnessed her drunken antics.
Harry retreated to the kitchen, seeking refuge in a strong cup of coffee. He pulled out one of the stools and perched at the worktop. The sounds of Pansy’s shrieking and Draco’s softer, more rational words, echoed through the flat, but Harry was oblivious to them. All his attention was focussed on what had passed between Draco and him earlier that evening – he was sure he could still feel the ghost of Draco’s palm against his own – and he couldn’t help but torment himself with “what if”s.
What if Draco was just being polite, not wanting to offend him by shrugging off his hand? What if Pansy hadn’t been there when they got home? What if Draco came out of that room and pinned him down on the worktop right now?
Harry rubbed his hands tiredly over his face. There was only one place those kinds of thoughts were going to end up, and it wasn’t somewhere he wanted to go with Draco’s ex-girlfriend in the next room.
Dragging himself to his feet, Harry dumped his half-drunk cup of coffee in the sink before heading off to bed – hopefully he would see things a bit more rationally in the morning.
“Harry! You about?”
“In the kitchen,” he replied.
Ron ambled in carrying a large overnight bag. “I see Malfoy’s helping you out then?”
Harry smiled wryly. “About as much as I expected him to. Though to be fair, at the moment he's over at the Manor borrowing some fancy plates and cutlery for us to use. We don’t have enough matching stuff, and apparently that’s unacceptable.”
“Well,” Ron said, “I might not be much for cooking, but there’s one thing I learned growing up with mum, and that’s how to peel veg. Let me just go and dump this bag in my room, and then I’ll come give you a hand.”
Harry nodded in agreement and never gave it another thought, until an ear-piercing scream rent the air.
“Shit!” He dropped the knife he was holding and looked up just in time to see a red-faced Ron hotfooting back into the room.
“Harry! What the hell is Pansy Parkinson doing in your spare room? Naked?”
“Naked?” Harry repeated, blindsided for a moment. “You mean, you saw...”
“Everything,” Ron answered. A broad grin crossed his flushed faced. “Fantastic set of tits.”
“Don’t even think about it,” Harry warned.
“What?” Ron was the picture of injured innocence.
Harry laughed. “I’m not Hermione, Ron. I know what the grin means, and I also know that Draco will kill you if you start hitting on his best friend.”
Ron shrugged. “We’re both adults. I don’t see what it’s got to do with Malfoy.” He climbed up on a nearby stool, picked up a knife, and began to help with the sprouts. “What’s she doing here anyway? I thought she was off to some island somewhere with that Greek bloke of hers.”
“I’m not entirely sure,” Harry admitted. “She turned up here last night, drunk out of her brain. All Draco could get out of her was that she'd broken up with what's-his-name, and that a rather unpleasant impotence curse had been involved.”
Ron winced involuntarily. “Ouch. Poor bloke.”
“Poor bloke, my arse, Weasley.” Harry and Ron looked up as a now fully-clothed Pansy entered the room. “He was a gold-digging parasite who got what was coming to him.”
“Fair enough,” Ron replied, clearly not wanting to argue with a woman who was handy with such spells.
Pansy turned her attention to Harry. “Where’s Draco? He’s not gone in to work, surely?”
Harry shook his head. “Flying visit to the Manor to pick up some essentials for tomorrow.”
“I’m just going to pop back home to pick up a few 'essentials' myself,” Pansy said. “If he gets back before I do, let him know where I am, will you?”
“Essentials,” Harry repeated in confusion.
“Yes, Harry, essentials,” Pansy answered, using the tone that Harry was convinced all Slytherins were taught upon Sorting. “Draco said it was okay for me to join you for Christmas, seeing as my other plans have...fallen through. So I’ll be stopping in your spare room tonight.”
“Okay,” Harry replied, fairly certain his permission wasn’t being asked.
“Hey!” Ron protested. “That’s my room. Where am I supposed to sleep now?”
“You can have my room,” Harry placated him quickly.
“I can’t do that,” Ron answered. “It’s yours.”
“It’s fine, honest,” Harry replied. “I’ll probably be up late tonight anyway, so it makes more sense for me to take the sofa bed.”
Ron huffed but made no further protest.
“Well, if that’s that all sorted, I’ll be on my way.” Pansy picked up her handbag from the counter. “Oh, and Weasley, if you could manage to stop staring at my tits by the time I come back, that would be great.
“Don’t ask me,” Harry shrugged. “Last I heard they were at each other’s throats because Ron walked in on her naked.”
“Well, if they keep up at this rate we’ll be having water with Christmas dinner,” Draco grumbled. “That’s the third bottle they’re on and it’s still early.”
Harry looked at his watch. “Draco, it’s nearly eleven. It’s hardly early.”
Draco snorted. “Trust me, where Pansy’s concerned, this is early.”
“She certainly seems to have got over her break-up rather quickly,” Harry commented, as Pansy’s throaty laugh sounded through the flat.
Draco finished loading the dishwasher before replying. “I think it’s more her pride that’s hurt than anything,” he answered finally. “That and the fact that she’s missed out on a Caribbean holiday.”
“So what happened anyway? Was he cheating on her?” Harry wasn’t usually one for gossip, but this was the first time he had been alone with Draco all day and he wanted to prolong the moment.
“Not as such,” Draco replied, drying his hands on the tea towel. “It turns out that despite his rather illustrious pedigree, he was, shall we say, rather impoverished and looking for a meal ticket. The idiot thought our Pans had more in the bank than she actually has. He got quite the nasty shock when he found out.”
“That wasn’t the only nasty shock he got by the sounds of it.”
Draco chuckled. “She always was good at the Impotentio hex. It was perfect for keeping Crabbe and Goyle at her beck and call back at Hogwarts.”
Harry laughed and then tried unsuccessfully to stifle a yawn.
“Why don’t you go to bed? You look knackered.”
“I can’t till they do,” Harry answered, with a rueful look in the direction of the living room. “I thought everyone would be having an early night so I volunteered to sleep on the sofa bed.”
Draco hesitated for a moment. “You could always share with me, as long as you promise not to snore.”
Harry didn’t miss the definite flush that coloured Draco’s cheeks, and he was fairly sure that his own were a similar shade. He tried his hardest not to read anything into the friendly offer. After all, neither of them had mentioned the hand-holding incident, nor had either of them made any effort to take things a step further.
Before the silence became awkward, Harry nodded. “Okay, as long as you keep your cold feet off me.”
Draco grinned. “I’m making no promises, Potter.”
Rolling over to the side, he smiled at the familiar messy head occupying the other pillow. Harry looked so peaceful when he was asleep, almost childlike, and Draco reached out a hand to touch his face before he realised what he was doing.
No sooner had Draco’s fingertips feathered lightly over the surface of his lips than Harry’s eye lashes fluttered open. Draco quickly snatched his hand back and tried to feign innocence.
“Draco?” Harry mumbled sleepily. “What’s up?”
“Not sure,” Draco replied honestly. “Something woke me.” He tried his hardest not to focus on the feel of Harry’s breath ghosting over his skin.
“What time is it?” Harry rubbed at his eyes with his fists, an action that Draco found almost irresistibly adorable.
Draco glanced over Harry's shoulder at his alarm clock. “Just after three."
A loud bang from the next room diverted them from further conversation. They lay there in the darkness, each of them reaching under the pillow for his wand.
“What the hell was that?” Draco whispered, his words almost drowned out as the banging started again.
Harry listened intently for a moment and then began to laugh.
“I don’t see what’s so funny,” Draco muttered sulkily. “We could be murdered in our beds.”
“I don’t think there’s much danger of that,” Harry replied, a little breathless from laughter.
Draco opened his mouth to refute this statement, but Harry placed a finger on his lips. “Just listen,” he said softly.
Draco did listen. And after a while he noticed that there was some kind of rhythm to the banging noise, and that there was an accompanying squeak also. Moments later, realisation of just what was going on began to dawn on him, and by the time Pansy’s breathless oh fuck, yes could be heard, Draco had a look of horrified outrage on his face.
“I don’t know what you’re laughing at,” he said, glaring at a now hysterical Harry. “You do realise that’s your bed they’re shagging in.”
Draco had commandeered the dining room several hours earlier, refusing to allow anyone entrance until it was time to start dinner. There was rather a lot of noise sounding from the room which made Harry nervous, but Draco had point-blank refused to allow anyone else near the table arrangements.
Ron and Pansy had yet to surface from Harry’s bedroom. Which, considering their late night activities, wasn’t really that surprising. Such had been their enthusiasm that Draco had been forced to cast a Silencing Charm on his room so that he and Harry could sleep without being further traumatised.
If he was honest, Harry was secretly pleased that neither of their guests had joined them yet. Although he and Draco had lived together for almost three years, this was the first proper Christmas they would spend in their flat. That the day had started with them practically curled around one another in Draco’s bed was possibly the best present Harry could have dreamt of.
Nothing had happened, but just enjoying the closeness of being in the same bed as Draco had been a wonderful experience for Harry. Intimacy was not something that came easily to him – having been starved of affection during his formative years, Harry had struggled to learn how to show it to others. But with Draco it seemed to be second nature.
Ironically, for someone whom everyone had thought of in their school days as cold and unfeeling, Draco was actually rather demonstrative. Harry had learned that though the Malfoys portrayed a reserved front in public, in private they were surprisingly loving. It was this revelation, more than anything else, which had helped Harry come to terms with Draco’s family and their history.
The feel of Draco’s warm body pressed up against his had been the perfect start to the day for Harry. And it had only got better as he and his flatmate exchanged gifts around their stately tree, to a soundtrack of Bing Crosby. Unashamedly, Harry spent the entire morning fantasising that he and Draco were a proper couple, not just good friends who danced round the edges of romance from time to time.
Harry ran his eye over the various pots and pans that littered the kitchen surfaces. Everything was on track – the turkey was sizzling away in the oven, releasing mouth-watering aromas, the vegetables were sitting in cold water just waiting to be cooked, and the pâté was chilling in the fridge.
Finding himself with a surprisingly free moment, Harry decided to treat himself to a glass of wine. He had barely filled his glass before the doorbell rang.
“Harry! Get that will you?”
Harry shook his head and smiled. Obviously Draco had no intention of leaving the dining room any time soon, so it was up to him to entertain the guests.
“Okay,” he shouted back, though he knew Draco didn’t really expect a reply, and made his way to the front door to welcome the first of their many guests.
The dining room itself had been a revelation once Draco had allowed him access. Not satisfied with purloining various items of tableware from the Manor, Draco had actually taken the liberty of transporting the dining table also. He’d spent the morning commanding a small army of house-elves as they recreated Malfoy Manor, complete with candelabra and drinks cabinet. Only Hermione’s presence had stopped him from having the elves serve them as well.
Harry sat back in his chair and ran his eye over the assembled guests at his table as they slowly picked over the cheese board that Draco had insisted on. This was a collection of people he had never thought to see in a room together, much less on Christmas Day. People who, a few short years ago, could have been counted upon to hex each other on sight, were now laughing and joking, as they pulled crackers and wishbones.
It was a gathering made even more unusual by the last-minute inclusion of Greg Goyle, who now worked for Ron; Ron had invited him and then forgotten to inform anyone. There was some initial awkwardness, as it had been years since Draco had spoken to his former schoolmate. But after a few glasses of wine, they found common ground on the subject of Greg’s ex-wife, whom Draco had never liked in school and whom Greg clearly held no lingering fondness for. Blaise joined in happily, simply glad to be surrounded by people who weren’t covertly watching him or busily discussing the more tawdry aspects of his mother’s marital affairs.
Ron and Pansy had finally surfaced just before dinner, and had promptly been treated to a volley of teasing with they handled with surprising aplomb. As he watched the looks that passed between them, Harry had a sneaking suspicion that it might be more than a one-time thing. Not that he was particularly bothered – Pansy was a long way from the pug-nosed cow she had been in school, and if nothing else, it would certainly make things easier for Draco and him when they finally got together.
And Harry was determined that it would be when, not if.
He looked down at the other end of the table and found that Draco was watching him, a soft smile on his face. Harry felt warmth suffuse his body at that smile, and he idly fantasised about crawling the length of the table, in front of all his friends, and kissing it right off Draco’s face.
Of course he didn’t, but that didn’t stop the coil of desire that unfurled in his belly at the thought.
As his eyes travelled further around the table, Harry noticed that Hermione was also watching him. She looked at him intently and gave a discreet nod in the direction of the window. Glancing outside, Harry realised that it had gone dark already – the conversation had flowed so well over dinner that afternoon had faded into night before any of them had noticed. He gave her an almost imperceptible nod of acknowledgement. No one else noticed this exchange, so the others thought nothing of it when Hermione excused herself from the table only moments later.
Harry waited impatiently for the few minutes it took her to return, and was out of his seat as soon as she sat down. He made his way to the end of the table and stopped by Draco’s chair. He smiled at his flatmate who stared back at him in surprise.
“You’ll have to excuse us for a moment,” Harry said, addressing their assembled guests. “I need to borrow Draco for a moment.”
Draco got to his feet, curiosity written all over his face. “What’s going on?” he muttered quietly.
Harry grinned. “You’ll see. Come on.”
When they got out into the hallway, Harry stopped and waited for Draco to draw level with him. He could hear the chatter of the others, no doubt discussing their disappearance, but paid it no heed – all of his focus was on the man in front of him.
“What are you up to, Harry?” Draco asked, a smile curving his lips.
“I’ve got one last present to give you,” Harry admitted, enjoying Draco’s delight that showed plainly on his face. “But I need you to put this on.” He held out something in his hand and Draco looked at it askance.
Harry nodded. “Trust me.” He turned Draco round gently and tied the silky black fabric over his eyes, then guided him towards the kitchen.
“Can’t you give me a hint?” Draco begged. “You know I hate surprises.”
Harry laughed. “It’s not surprises you hate, Draco. It’s the waiting you can’t stand.”
“You’re mean,” Draco muttered, and Harry was sure that if he looked, there would be a pout on Draco’s face. But his actions belied his words as he placed his hands atop Harry’s, tightening the grip on his waist.
They came to a stop in front of the French doors that opened onto their roof terrace. The doors were ajar and a cold breeze was blowing through them.
“This present must be huge if you’ve had to put it outside,” Draco said.
Harry leant forward so his lips were a hair’s breadth away from Draco’s ears. “You’ll see,” he murmured, and did not miss the shiver that ran through Draco’s body in response.
A few short steps further and they were outside.
“Harry! It’s raining,” Draco protested. “My hair will kink.”
In response, Harry reached up and removed the blindfold. “Happy Christmas, Draco,” he said softly, and then stood back to await the response.
He watched with anticipation as Draco opened his eyes, discovering that it wasn’t rain landing on his skin, but the softest, whitest snowflakes ever. He stood there for a few moments in silence, arms outstretched, a look of wonder on his face. Harry thought he’d never seen Draco look more beautiful than at that moment, but seconds later, he found himself with an armful of snow-covered blond, and the ability to think was swiftly lost.
Harry wasn’t sure who kissed who first. All he knew was that Draco’s lips were soft and warm, and fitted perfectly against his own in a way that surely meant they belonged together. Then Draco’s hands were in his hair, and his body was pressed close, and Harry thought that his chest would burst at any moment, such was the force of the emotion he was feeling.
When Draco finally pulled back, it wasn't far -- he moved only inches away from Harry and gazed at him intently. “How?” he asked breathlessly.
Harry’s hands cupped Draco’s cheeks, warming them from the cold. “Hermione,” he answered, not feeling capable of coherent sentences.
“Remind me to thank her later,” Draco replied, before turning his face up to the sky again.
Harry watched for a moment, taking in the way the snowflakes clung to Draco’s eyelashes, and slowly tracing his thumbs along his cheekbones. “Not like this, I hope,” he teased, leaning in and nuzzling against Draco’s neck.
“Definitely not like this,” Draco agreed with a throaty chuckle, and to illustrate his point he pressed his body firmly against Harry’s, leaving no doubt as to his intent.
“We have guests,” Harry protested weakly.
“Don’t care,” Draco muttered, sliding cold hands under Harry’s jumper and over the smooth, warm skin of his back. “Waited too long already.” He pulled Harry into a bruising kiss that seemed to go on forever -- or at least until the whistles and catcalls sounded from their kitchen, interrupting the moment.
They pulled apart breathlessly, foreheads still pressed together.
“About bloody time, too!” Ron shouted.
“Here, here,” Pansy and Blaise chorused.
“Can’t we send them all home?” Draco whispered. “We’ve already fed them.”
“Sadly not,” Harry replied. “But it’s only for a few more hours. And there’s always tomorrow.”
“Not tomorrow,” Draco replied. “We’re busy tomorrow.”
“Doing what?” Harry said, puzzled. “Christmas is over.”
“Yes,” Draco agreed. “But the sales are just beginning.”