Title: Faerie Lights and Brandy
Pairing(s): Harry/Draco, implied R/H
Summary: As a child, Draco unconditionally loved Christmas. As an adult, it wasn’t that simple.
Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended.
Epilogue compliant? Nope. Not even a little. I’m not even sure certain redheads are named…
Word Count: Just south of 7,200
Author's Notes: heartofoshun, I hope you like what I’ve done with your suggestions. If you squint, you’ll see some of them in there, I swear. This thing had a mind of its own. Thanks to B and N for the sanity checks. Finally, thanks to the mods, who run a bang-up fest, and who put up with my ass, even though I can’t quite seem to get it together. I’ll miss this one, ladies.
Draco had always loved Christmas. Presents and parties and his parents talking about something other than how to rid the world of blood traitors and all the pudding he could eat and then some. Yes, Christmas at Malfoy Manor was always a thing to behold, and Draco loved it.
Until the war fucked that up, along with everything else.
The first Christmas after Potter did everyone a favour and rid the world of that snake-faced git, Draco quite frankly wished that he was dead, too. Draco himself, that was. Not Potter. Never Potter.
It is the opinion of the Wizengamot that Draco Malfoy should serve a sentence of no fewer than five years in Azkaban prison for crimes committed in the name of He Who Shall Not Be Named...
There had been appeals, of course - Potter had spoken tirelessly at all of them, arguing with everyone who would listen that Draco didn’t deserve this - but apparently the new Wizard order felt they had to make an example of Draco so that future children learned the consequences of following the dark side.
Fuck them, they had no idea just how little choice he ever had.
His sentence was ultimately reduced to three years, but the hearings dragged on for months. The resulting timing was, Draco thought, nothing short of a sick joke on the part of the universe.
Draco Malfoy to report to Azkaban Christmas Day.
The headline on the front page of the Prophet mocked him day in and day out until Christmas Day, when four Aurors - four, did they not realise he was barely more than a child and wandless at that? - showed up at the Manor with solemn faces and an arrest warrant.
He didn’t cry. Not when his mother began to weep, or when the last house elf started banging her head against the front door, or when he stumbled walking down the front steps before they Apparated away.
No, he wouldn’t cry on Christmas. Not even when they shut the door behind him in his cell and he was surrounded by agonised cries and the feeling of despair.
He cried every day after that, though.
If he stopped feeling and stopped crying, they’d have won.
The second Christmas after the war ended was much the same as the past 364 days had been. Draco peeled his eyes open, sat up on the pallet he slept on night after night, sighed with the realisation that yes, he was still here, and made a mark on the wall to tell him what day it was. The discovery that it was Christmas Day was enough to bring the tears he hoped for every day, and that pleased him. Some days he could barely find the strength to cry, and he had to fight with himself and the voices that mocked him in his head and pinch himself so hard he left marks until he could squeeze out a few tears.
If he stopped crying, they’d have won.
The crisp voice of his least favourite guard made him look up, eyes still bleary with tears he wasn’t finished shedding. Fuck, couldn’t he cry in peace just this one day? It was fucking Christmas, after all.
“Get the fuck up, Malfoy,” the guard said. Draco had no idea if the man had a name, only that he liked to use his wand more than anyone had a right to when he was angry, which seemed like all the time. “Visitor.”
Draco scrambled weakly to his feet before he could even process the guard’s words. He’d been in here a year and hadn’t had a visitor. Were visitors even allowed in Azkaban?
“Who?” He tried to whisper, but his voice was so rusty that it just came out as a whoosh of air between his lips.
The guard didn’t answer, of course. Draco had learned months ago that he could ask all the questions he wanted; no one was going to answer them. No one was going to so much as acknowledge that he’d spoken, in fact, so he just stopped speaking.
“Fucking hell, Malfoy, what the fuck have they done to you?”
A new voice, one Draco would have known in the pit of hell itself, came from the shadows behind the guard.
“What the fuck did you do to him, you fucking shits?” Potter had turned on the guard, and Draco had a moment to look him over, still trying to process the idea that Harry Potter was standing outside his cell door in Azkaban prison on Christmas Day. He’d grown. Filled out. Clearly had all he wanted to eat in the last year.
Draco looked down at himself, a mess of bruised, sallow skin hanging off tired bones. How things had changed. Once he’d have looked at Potter and made some kind of derogatory comment about his hair or his sloppy Muggle clothes. Now though, he’d sell what was left of his body for a bath and a shirt that kept out the draft, so by comparison, Potter looked like a king.
“Get your supervisor,” Potter was saying.
The guard mumbled something, but his words were cut off when he levitated up from the ground. His eyes bulged and he scrabbled at his throat with his fingers. Potter was staring at him, face flat and calm, and Draco realised Potter was holding the guard up without even the wave of a wand.
“Perhaps it’s escaped your attention, but I’m something of a person of note in...well...pretty much everywhere, you absolute wanker. Here’s what’s going to happen. I’m going to put you down. You’re going to get your supervisor. He’s going to bring a set of keys and his stupid magical signature, he’s going to open this door, and you’re going to release Draco Malfoy into my custody.”
Draco blinked. He must have been hallucinating.
“If there’s even the slightest deviation from my very simple plan,” Potter went on, and Draco was impressed at the cold authority in his tone, “you’ll be answering to the Minister before you’ve time to go home for Christmas dinner, understand?”
The man, who was turning purple, nodded desperately. Potter flicked his eyes to Draco for a moment, letting the guard hang there just a bit longer. Draco knew it was for him, and he would have smiled a little if he’d remembered how. The guard fell to the floor in a heap, but he was running down the hall in no time at all.
“Fuck, Malfoy, I had no idea,” Potter had turned his full attention back to Draco and was gripping the bars of his cell. All the chill and power had left his voice, replaced with something Draco vaguely remembered to be called compassion. “I’ve been trying to get your sentence commuted for a year - bastards and their examples - and I got Kingsley to agree to let you out on parole just this morning. I...fuck, I’m sorry it took me this long.”
Draco was horrified to realise that Potter looked like he was going to cry. He limped to the bars and stood facing Potter, back far enough that the stench coming from his body wouldn’t knock Potter over, but close enough that he could have touched Potter if he wanted to.
He shook his head slowly, keeping his eyes on Potter’s and swallowed.
“Why?” he rasped.
“Because of what they...oh, you mean why am I here. Right. Sorry, I-”
“Potter,” he ground out. “Why?”
Potter scrubbed his hand through his hair.
“You never deserved this,” he said, gesturing around. “You were a right bastard, don’t get me wrong, and I don’t even know if I like you.” Draco would have laughed if he remembered how. “But I do know this was too much, for you or for any of us. They finally got sick of me, I think. Said you could get out if I vouched for you.”
Potter eyed Draco for a moment.
“The thing is,” he went on, “I don’t much care what you do as long as you’re not in here.”
Draco must have looked stricken, which was funny since he hadn’t ever really cared what Potter thought before, but it seemed that Potter was Draco’s own personal saviour just now, and Draco needed someone to give a shit about what happened to him if he got out of that miserable cell. Potter rushed to continue.
“No! I just...I mean, if you want to lie on my sofa and do nothing, it’s fine by me. If you want to get a job or whatever it is you might do, that’s fine by me too. I’m not your keeper, is what I’m saying.”
Draco opened his mouth to speak, but the guard reappeared with a shaken-looking supervisor. Potter glared at them both and spoke under his breath. Draco only caught out right the fuck now and know who I am and faster, but he got the gist when his cell door creaked open and he found himself looking at life without bars to hamper the view for the first time in a year.
He was so overwhelmed that he couldn’t speak while they gave him back his few belongings and sent him on his way. It wasn’t until they reached the Apparition point at the far end of the island that he finally cleared his throat.
“Potter,” he said, his voice a little stronger, but still shaky. Potter looked at him. “It’s Christmas, isn’t it?”
Potter smiled at him - really smiled, and it was the first thing that made Draco feel hope since a year ago when they’d locked him up. He nodded.
“I didn’t get you anything,” Draco said slowly.
Potter looked at him, confused for a moment before realising Draco was trying, in his own way, to thank him for what Draco would have called maybe the best gift he’d ever received. His smile turned to a grin, and Draco found himself trying to curve the corners of his own mouth up into that same now-unfamiliar shape.
“There is something I’d like,” Potter said as he reached his hand out for Draco to hang onto - Draco hadn’t done a lick of magic in a year, he was more than happy to let Potter take him sidealong to somewhere that wasn’t Azkaban. “Might as well put all that Hogwarts stuff behind us and start again, seeing as how you’re going to be kipping in my flat for the time being. Call me Harry?”
Such a simple request, uttered at the same time Potter’s - Harry’s hand brushed Draco’s arm to initiate more or less the first non-violent human contact he’d had in a year, was enough to make the lump well up in Draco’s throat again. Gods, it felt good to touch someone. He sighed aloud, he knew he did, and he didn’t even care. Harry knew it too, because Draco felt the brush of fingers become a deliberate slide, and without thinking he turned his hand to grab Harry’s.
“Are you holding my hand?” Harry asked him, still smiling.
“Shut it,” Draco said, face burning, though not enough to make him want to let go. “It’s just for the sidealong.”
Harry laughed and squeezed, and Draco squeezed back. Bloody hell, he was holding Harry bloody Potter’s hand, and he didn’t even mind. What the fuck had this place done to him? Then again, Harry didn’t seem to mind either, and that was fine by Draco.
“Happy Christmas, Harry,” he said.
And it really was.
The third Christmas after Harry killed the Dark Lord, Harry and Draco got drunk. Not just a little tipsy, not even comfortably numb. No, they got their hands on two bottles of the cheapest, most offensive brandy in all of Britain (Draco was sure this was the case, despite Harry’s near-certainty that someone had something worse fermenting in their bathtub somewhere in the Highlands), drank every drop, and got absolutely pissed.
It had been a challenging year, to put it mildly. Harry had gone on some sort of prison reform rampage after he found Draco in Azkaban, and before it was all over he’d had half the correctional employees in the Ministry sacked. Granger, ever one for a cause, had taken it upon herself to act as the brains behind Harry’s campaign, such as it was. Weasley, who Draco had reluctantly admitted to Harry sometime in the spring was really not so bad after all, was just as much onboard. He’d been twice suspended from the Aurors for resorting to physical violence after hearing of mistreatment of a minor prisoner.
When Draco had raised his eyebrows questioningly after the second time, Weasley had shrugged and said, “Stupid kids are stupid kids, Malfoy. I don’t have to like what they do, but they don’t deserve what happened to you any more than you did.”
Come to think of it, that might have been about the same time Draco admitted that Weasley wasn’t so bad.
But Granger and Weasley were the exception, rather than the rule. The wizarding press, such as they were, hounded Harry for weeks, writing all manner of lies about him being under a dark spell or being paid off by Death Eaters. They speculated about Harry bringing Draco out of prison to make him a housekeeper, a test subject for top secret potions, even a sex slave. To be fair, the two of them had a good laugh about the first one, since Draco could barely do his own washing, but Harry had come dangerously close to casting Incendio on the whole street the Prophet’s offices occupied at the last.
His own mother had been wary, though grateful. She’d gone to France after her time in Azkaban - shorter than Draco’s, owing to the fact that she saved Harry’s life in the Forbidden Forest or something - and Draco had the feeling that she was living in another prison now, one of her own making. He’d been to visit, to show her he was well enough, but had returned after only a few days. He’d felt paralysed with fear the whole time he’d been away from Harry and the flat he called home ever since they’d stumbled through the door after Harry got him out of Azkaban.
He was never afraid as long as Harry was around. Not really.
The rest of the Weasley family responded with a wary acceptance, but Draco still felt like they were waiting for him to let them down each time he saw them. Another in a long line of constant reminders that even if Harry spoke up for him, Draco was never quite good enough. Which, incidentally, is exactly why he and Harry spent that Christmas in Harry’s flat - his flat too, if he looked at it just so, since he’d been living there a full year - alone, without Christmas dinner, drinking themselves stupid.
“I’ve got to hand it to you,” Draco said, holding out his glass for another generous splash of brandy, “you manage to make even the most vile excuse for alcohol tolerable if you pour enough of it, Potter.”
“M’name’s Harry, Draco,” Harry said, fixing an exaggerated pout to his face.
“Stop looking like that, you tosser,” Draco said, fighting back drunken laughter. “You look like a sad clown doll, and those things are creepy as fuck. Besides, your name is Potter, too. Your name is Harry and Potter, remember?”
He knew he wasn’t making any bloody sense, but he also knew the brandy was soothing - though terrible, and his “not half bad” was really just a drunken lie - and the fire was warm, and Harry had transfigured a crooked little Christmas tree in the corner, so the room was rather festive. And his sides hurt from laughing so hard, which was maybe the second best Christmas gift he’d ever received.
“You’re bloody pissed, is what you are,” said Harry, and Draco drew himself up, then promptly fell over.
“Was going to try to deny it,” he hiccoughed, “but I seem to be inable to sit up.”
“Inable?” Harry asked, his head lolling back on the sofa cushions. “‘S’at a word? Doesn’t sound right. Innnnnnable. In- oh! Unable!”
And then Harry began to giggle, which made Draco giggle again, and somewhere deep down, the tiniest sober part of him couldn’t remember when he’d ever had so much fun.
Several hours later, the silliness had worn off and they’d cobbled together a very strange, yet oddly delicious Christmas dinner of leftover takeaway, frozen pizza (Muggles were clearly smarter than Draco had ever given them credit for if they came up with the wonder that was frozen pizza), and a basket of pastry that some adoring fan had left at the Ministry for Harry. They sat on the floor, mostly quiet, watching the flames flicker in the fireplace.
“What was Christmas like when you were small?” Draco asked, turning his head. Harry’s head was tipped back like Draco’s, and he let it fall so they were looking at one another.
Not for the first time that year, Draco took a moment to admire just how nicely Harry had grown up. Where there had once been awkward angles and overly large eyes, there was now a strong, defined jaw with just a hint of stubble and eyes that Draco could only associate with kindness, even if they were usually mischievous as well. Sometime around his Weasley-isn’t-so-bad epiphany, he’d also come to grips with what he’d feared all along: he was attracted to Harry.
It had become a bit like eating breakfast or reading the newspaper after that; he woke up, whispered a silent thanks that he wasn’t in a cell in Azkaban any longer, spent a moment composing himself while he thought about Harry, and went about his day.
One thing he’d learned after a year in Azkaban prison: very little else was actually the crisis situation it seemed. Not even wanting Harry Potter and never being quite up to snuff to have him.
Because truly, in what world could a barely-saved son of a Death Eater be good enough for the boy who saved them all?
Harry sighed. “For me? About the same as any other day, except there were more dishes to do at the end of it.”
Draco wanted to slap himself for asking. One thing he’d noticed over the past year was that he’d lost his sense of decorum in Azkaban. Now that he was out, he couldn’t seem to be arsed to get it back. He had bigger priorities in life, like trying to enjoy it. It backfired sometimes, though, and he was pretty sure asking Harry about Christmas with his horrific family was one of those times.
“Shit,” he said quietly. “I’m sorry. Shouldn’t have asked.”
Harry kept looking at him, just staring silently, and Draco wanted to look away but he couldn’t.
“It’s all right, honestly,” he said finally. “I’m not actually all that upset about it anymore.”
“How?” Draco asked, incredulous. “How does that not upset you every second? You lived in a bloody cupboard, Harry.”
“I remember,” Harry chuckled, and Draco marvelled at just how not upset he really was. “But you lived in a cell, and it doesn’t upset you every day, does it?”
Draco stared at him.
“But that was different, I-”
Harry cut him off. “If you bloody say you deserved it, I’ll hex you. I wouldn’t have come to get you out if you did, and you bloody well know it.”
Draco kept staring for a moment longer, unsure of what to say. He thought back on the last year, on how much he’d learned and how much he’d changed, and how grateful he was to have had the chance to do any of it. He supposed that someone who really deserved to rot in his cell might not have tried so hard to live up to the person Harry Potter seemed to think he could become.
“It upsets me some days,” he finally said. “And I do still think about it every single day, though probably not for the reason you think.”
Harry was watching him so intently that Draco could feel his face colouring under the scrutiny. He took a deep breath.
“I should still be in there,” he went on, “for another year past today at least if I’d gotten early parole. Two, if I’d served my whole sentence. I wake up every morning and remind myself that I’m here instead of there, and that I should at least attempt not to be such an arse when you’ve drunk all the coffee since it’s you who brought me here.”
He smiled weakly at the end, giving in to the flush blooming on his cheeks. He sounded like such a bloody sap, but it was the truth.
Harry smiled, that wonderful, open smile just like the one he’d had on his face a year ago when Draco had clung to his hand before they left the island.
“I’d do it again,” he said, and reached over to squeeze Draco’s hand again, just for a second.
“I know,” Draco said, because he did know. That was just...Harry.
“Happy Christmas, Draco,” Harry said.
Draco smiled and put his head back on the sofa cushions again and closed his eyes, totally content. Even though it wasn’t quite what he wanted, and even though what he wanted might be so far out of reach it was almost comical, he was sitting on Harry Potter’s living room floor with a full stomach and a pleasantly fuzzy head, and it was maybe the best Christmas he’d ever had.
The fourth Christmas after the end of the war was both good and bad, Draco supposed. He had a boyfriend, which was quite nice if he was honest. He had someone to snog under the mistletoe and someone to stay fairly close to during the interminable series of holiday parties that Harry dragged them to. Yes, being with someone at Christmas was decidedly better, Draco thought.
Except that his someone, though handsome, witty, freakishly talented in bed, and generally a very nice bloke, was not Harry Potter.
Draco was fucked, and he knew it.
As it turned out, he had a nondescript Ministry desk job (thanks to Harry, and Draco wasn’t pretending otherwise), a stable social life that included his own friendships with Granger and the Ginger Weasel (it was just a joke by now, and a good one at that), and a really lovely boyfriend.
Harry, as a matter of course, had the same. Well, all right, so his job was far less nondescript, and he’d had the same friends since he was 11, but he also had a boyfriend. And that drove Draco half mad. Draco didn’t like the bloke on principle; how could he like someone who had the one thing he really wanted? Luckily, he was also a complete prat, so Draco wasn’t alone in disliking him. Occasionally he’d get very pissed with all his new Gryffindor friends, and they’d all take turns firing not-so-covert hexes in the wanker’s direction.
The sad part was, Harry knew they did it and never tried to stop them.
“You’re seriously spending Christmas with that git?” Draco asked Harry around midday on Christmas.
The truth was, he wasn’t surprised Harry wasn’t going to be around for Christmas that year, but it didn’t make it any easier. He’d come to think of this particular holiday as a bit sacred, and he didn’t appreciate Harry’s relationships getting in the way of that. Not to mention that he already knew that Harry’s Christmas would end up much like most of the other days Harry spent with the arsehole of the century: with Harry sad and maudlin and probably drinking straight from a bottle of something while he tried to figure out what he’d done to provoke yet another row. And Draco would be left trying to control himself so he didn’t violate his parole by killing the bloody man for treating Harry like...like...like he was nothing.
Like he wasn’t special.
Harry glared at him.
“That git,” Harry spat, “is my boyfriend. So yes, I’ll be spending Christmas with him. Why do you care anyway, won’t you be off with the latest Mr. Perfect?”
“Jealous, Potter?” Draco said before he could stop the words from coming out.
Harry blinked, then visibly deflated and turned to leave the kitchen.
“Happy Christmas, Draco,” he said sadly.
“Don’t I just wish it was,” Draco muttered at Harry’s retreating back. “Don’t I just wish it was.”
Draco broke up with his own boyfriend the next day. Perfect as he may have been, he wasn’t quite right for Draco. Perhaps Christmas wasn’t so grand after all.
If the fourth Christmas after the war was a low point for Draco, the fifth Christmas may have been the dregs of it for Harry. Harry’s miscreant boyfriend came and went three times that year. The two of them managed a spectacular row on Christmas afternoon (in Harry and Draco’s flat, which meant Draco was witness to all of its glory and had to shut himself in the loo to avoid the hexes. The arsehole stormed out, and Harry followed, and Draco hadn’t seen either of them since.
That was six hours gone, and Draco was starting to get a bit worried. True, they could be having magnificent Christmas make-up sex, but he thought things sounded different this time. Brittle.
Harry should have been home by now. They hadn’t even wished each other happy Christmas yet, owing to the rowing and Draco’s general avoidance of any space that contained Harry’s lesser half. But Draco knew that no matter where their holiday plans took them, they would always at least have that. After what Harry had done for him, there would always be that much.
He was half asleep on the sofa, staring at the faerie lights on the tree and basically giving in to the fact that he was pining for someone who wouldn’t pine back when the door opened, and a very drunk, very sloppy Harry tumbled through the threshold and into the living room. Draco rolled his head sleepily to look up, but when he caught sight of Harry’s face, he jolted into a sitting position.
“Harry?” He was on his feet in an instant, catching an armful of Harry - who smelled like a barroom brawl - just before he tripped over his own feet. “What happened? Are you hurt?”
Harry’s eyes were red and bloodshot, and something about the idea that he’d been crying froze the blood in Draco’s veins. This was bloody Harry Potter. Defeater of trolls and basilisks and creepy would-be evil overlords. He didn’t cry. Crying was for the rest of the world. For Draco, and those like him. Not for Harry.
“Harry, listen to me,” Draco said again, softly. He guided Harry to the sofa, both of them tripping and stumbling until they ended up tangled together, but at least not standing any longer. Harry hadn’t said a word. “Did he hurt you? Are you all right?”
Harry finally shook his head, looking up at Draco.
“N-no.” He hiccoughed. “Not hurt, just stupid. How could I be so stupid?”
Draco sighed. Counted backwards from ten. Resisted the very strong urge to cast one of the half-dozen dark tracking spells he knew to find Harry’s bastard of a boyfriend - ex-boyfriend? - and sever his limbs from his body one by one.
He wanted to ask what happened. He wanted to ask what they fought about, what could possibly make Harry think he’d been so stupid. But he couldn’t. He couldn’t do anything except run his hand up and down Harry’s back and wait, because he was afraid Harry would say it wasn’t really over, just that there’d been another row, and Draco didn’t think he could take another Christmas like that.
“He never wanted me,” Harry whispered. “He wanted the person he thought I was after I killed Voldemort.”
Draco squeezed his eyes shut.
“He wanted the hero,” Harry went on, even softer than a whisper. “Not me. Why do they all want him, Draco, instead of just me?”
Fuck. There was no right answer, not really. He hated when this happened, for any reason. People built Harry up to be almost otherworldly, and they couldn’t quite handle the notion that he was just a man at the end of the day. Draco had seen it dozens of times, and he hated every one.
“Someone will,” he murmured into Harry’s hair. “Someone does, Harry, I promise. You just have to find him.”
“I never will,” Harry said, with the pathetic petulance of someone whose heart is well and truly broken and is marinating in a bottle of cheap firewhiskey.
Draco would have laughed if he wasn’t so heartbroken on Harry’s behalf. Harry was the one who pulled him out of Azkaban fucking prison, and Draco couldn’t even find the right words to patch Harry up after a breakup. Some friend he was.
“You will,” he insisted quietly, ignoring Harry’s shaking head, “it’s the way it has to be, Harry. You’ve done too much not to be happy, and you’re a good man, despite what I may say to wind you up.”
Harry laughed weakly.
“I-” He hiccoughed again. “I just want someone to be there when I come home. Or to be there for someone else. Merlin, I’m such a sap, aren’t I? To want to just be with someone?”
Draco thought he might cry.
“No,” he whispered. “Not a sap, Harry. It’s no more than you deserve. You, most of all.”
Harry lifted his head and looked blearily at Draco, squinting a little through bloodshot eyes no doubt blurred by firewhiskey.
“I want someone like you,” he said so quietly Draco wouldn’t have believed he said it at all if he hadn’t seen Harry’s lips move.
He didn’t even have time to process the words before Harry leaned up and pressed their lips together in a sloppy kiss. It was too wet and Harry was everywhere, kissing and talking and gripping Draco’s shirt like a lifeline, and Draco never, ever wanted it to end. A voice in his head kept saying finally, finally, finally, urging him to open his mouth for Harry’s kisses and tighten his arms around his back.
“Draco,” Harry whispered into his mouth, their tongues barely separating long enough for Harry to get the words out. “DracoDracoDraco...gods...oh...”
When he thought about it later, he was sure it was the taste of firewhiskey on Harry’s tongue that made him stop and think for just the tiniest second, and he was certain he’d never look at a bottle again without wanting to hex it or himself or both.
Fuck. I can’t do this. Not now. Not like this. I can’t...oh gods, do that again...noyesno...fuck!
“We can’t do this.” Much as I want to, fucking Christ. “Harry, stop, we can’t.”
“But why?” It was a whine and a whimper rolled into one, and it squeezed at his chest so hard he could barely breathe.
“Because you’re my best friend,” Draco whispered, trying his damnedest to avoid the slightly shiny, more-than-slightly-unfocused green eyes looking down at him, especially when they widened at his words. Really, he’d like to have slapped Harry for looking so surprised; how had he missed just how close they’d become over the years? “You’re my bloody best friend, and if we do this while you’re pissed, you’ll wake up tomorrow and you’ll have a headache and a whole lot of that hero regret shite you’re so fond of. And I’ll be out a flat and a flatmate and a best friend, and I can’t lose you, all right?”
Harry stared down at him for a moment longer before he let his head fall to Draco’s shoulder. He buried his face in the crook of Draco’s neck, and Draco was fairly sure he felt a tear slide down Harry’s face and onto his own collarbone.
“I’m sorry,” Harry whispered.
“So am I,” Draco whispered back. “You’ve no idea just how much.”
He thought Harry was asleep already. He lay there, thinking about just how much he’d wanted this very thing for ages, but of course when he got it it wasn’t right. It wasn’t right and it never would be, and he’d stay wrapped in the web of Harry Potter for life without a chance of escape.
Because even though he had no hope of it ever being right, he didn’t want to escape.
“You’re my best friend too, Draco,” Harry mumbled into his neck, causing him to start, then choke down a laugh that bordered on hysterical.
He could feel a lump rising in his throat as he ran his hand up and down Harry’s back. So fucking close. A Christmas tree and faerie lights and a fire and just the two of them tangled together on their sofa, and still the only thing Draco really wanted for Christmas or any other day was so fucking far away.
He fell asleep eventually, dreams haunted by Harry’s smiling face framed by twinkling lights as they kissed and held hands and celebrated the Christmas he wanted and wouldn’t have.
When he woke up, Harry was gone. A wrapped package sat on the floor near his head with a garish red bow stuck to a note that said, “Sorry about last night. I know this is a strange present, but it makes me think of you. I’m sorry every Christmas hasn’t been like that one. For either of us. Happy Christmas, Draco - Harry.”
Inside was a bottle of that horrific brandy they’d drunk together on that first Christmas in their flat. It’d been the best Christmas of Draco’s life.
He was done for. He clutched the stupid bottle to his chest like a prize and felt his eyes burn with tears he didn’t want to shed but couldn’t stop anymore. Drawing a shaky breath, he pulled his knees up to his chest and the throw over his body and up to his face until he could smell Harry’s soap on the end that’d been tucked under his chin all night, and let the tears fall.
Happy fucking Christmas, indeed.
Everything was different after that. Just as Draco had known it would be, and he alternately cursed himself for not just going through with whatever it was Harry wanted on Christmas night and for not just walking out when Harry came in like a kicked Crup. At least if he’d shagged Harry, he’d have had that to cling to. And if he’d left, the snogging might have been avoided, and with it the awkward year after.
Harry had apologised until he was blue in the face, and more than once Draco had snapped at him to cut it out, because he didn’t think he could take the self-righteous act any longer. They’d carefully avoided being alone together drunk, and Draco had taken to putting wards on his bedroom door so Harry couldn’t hear him calling out his name when he wanked. Which he did far more often than he wanted to admit.
The thing was, that kiss stuck with Draco like barely anything in his life ever had. Worse, when he thought of the other things that were as emblazoned in his memory, most had to do with Harry. A little boy with piercing green eyes who wasn’t impressed with him or his father or his offer to be friends. A terrified young man trying to staunch a flow of blood he’d caused himself with a stupid spell when they were both stupid kids. A swollen, barely-recognisable face that Draco still would have known anywhere, begging him without words for mercy he didn’t know he had in him.
A voice that gave him hope for the first time in a year that maybe he wouldn’t die in a prison that was worse than hell.
He was tired of dancing around Harry. Of explaining to their friends that yes, they were fine. Of pained glances that lasted too long across rooms and pubs. Of awkward silence and even more awkward after-work conversation in their flat. He had to do something.
The fifth Christmas morning after the war dawned cold and cloudy, and Draco could smell snow on the wind when he opened his window to receive his mother’s annual Christmas greeting from Europe. He shivered, but kept his head out for just a minute longer than necessary, grounding himself in the cold air.
Harry was, as he’d predicted, sleepily going through the motions of making coffee when he emerged from his bedroom, and Draco noted with some satisfaction that he’d still made enough for two, even on this anniversary of the awkwardness between them. It was Christmas, after all.
“Happy Christmas,” he said quietly from the kitchen doorway.
Harry looked up, cheeks a little flushed, eyes wide. Draco walked to the table and sat down before Harry could speak. He set the bottle Harry’d given him last Christmas in the center of the table and looked at Harry expectantly.
“What’s that?” Harry asked.
“You know what it is,” Draco said. “You gave it to me. It’s Christmas. I thought we should celebrate it properly.”
Harry stared at him.
“I- do you think that’s a good idea? You know, after...?”
“After last year?” Draco asked, hoping to Merlin and Circe that he sounded calmer than he felt. “In fact I do.”
“But I...we...” Harry was still staring, looking confused.
Time to lay it all out on the table and have done with it.
“That Christmas, with the brandy?” Draco spoke slowly, quietly. The way he imagined he’d speak to a wild animal, if speaking to wild animals did anyone any good.
Harry blinked. Draco thought blinking was a good sign.
“That was the best Christmas I’ve ever had, Harry.” He went on. “Even better than you coming to get me out of that shithole prison. I think it was a good one for you, as well.”
Harry nodded slowly.
“Let’s...” Oh gods, now was not the time for his courage to fail him. He took a deep breath. “Let’s try again? Please?”
Harry stood there, staring, silent, for so long that Draco thought he was going to walk out. When he turned instead and pulled two mismatched glasses from the cupboard, Draco nearly laughed with relief.
He poured a healthy measure of brandy into each glass, never taking his eyes from Harry, who still hadn’t sat down.
“Can we...” Harry gulped.
Anything, Draco thought. We can do anything you want. Just ask.
“Can we go sit by the tree?”
Draco blinked at him. Seemed to be a lot of blinking going around, he thought to himself.
“It’s Christmas,” Harry said. “And we sat by the tree the last time.” He smiled, a little shyly.
Draco smiled back, a little hopefully, and picked up their glasses.
“This is strange,” he said as they slid to the floor, backs against the sofa. The fire danced in the hearth and faerie lights twinkled on the tree that he’d decorated alone this year, though he noted with more than a little satisfaction that Harry had added a few strands of lights and some decorations one night after he’d gone to bed.
“What?” Harry asked, raising his glass to his lips.
“We’re having brandy for Christmas breakfast,” Draco said.
Harry laughed aloud. It was like a blanket on Draco’s morning chilled skin.
“It was your bloody idea.” Harry said.
Draco grinned. “So it was. Cheers. Happy Christmas, Harry.”
He lifted his glass, holding it expectantly between himself and Harry. Harry looked at it for a long time, flicking his eyes between the glass and Draco’s face, his expression unreadable. Draco began to wonder what it was he’d said wrong, because Harry’s glass hadn’t moved.
Suddenly Harry reached up and plucked his glass from his fingers, setting it carefully on the floor behind him, along with his own. Draco, confused, opened his mouth to ask what he was doing, but the words died on his lips when Harry brought his hand back around and slid his fingers over Draco’s jaw until his palm was flat against his cheek.
Draco stopped breathing. In fact, he was fairly sure he stopped doing anything except feeling the light pressure of Harry’s fingertips pressing into his jaw. When Harry’s thumb stroked across Draco’s bottom lip, he whimpered ever so softly, parting his lips against the touch.
That, it seemed, was all Harry needed. He leant forward, eyes on Draco’s the whole time, and replaced his thumb with his lips, sucking at Draco’s bottom lip gently. Draco moaned just a little as his brain finally caught up with what was happening.
Harry pulled back, not far, and looked into Draco’s eyes. His breathing was shallow.
“Wanted to do that before we had too much brandy this time. Wanted to do it for ages, really. You know, in case...in case you wanted...” He took a deep breath but didn’t move away. They were still so close that Draco could feel the words against his lips. “I wanted to make sure you knew I wanted you because it’s you, not because I’m pissed and heartbroken on Christmas.”
“Harry...” Draco whispered back, smiling and reaching up to slide his hands over Harry’s arms and around his shoulders. He wasn’t going anywhere. Not this time. .
“Happy Christmas, Draco,” Harry breathed, and they kissed again, and Draco had no idea who initiated it, only that he knew for bloody sure he wouldn’t be ending it.
Not much was said after that for quite some time. For a while, their flat was filled with the quiet sounds of clothes being carefully shed one article at a time, and of kisses being dropped over naked skin and the gasps of pleasure that came from the scratch of teeth over a nipple or the glide of fingers just there. And for a while after that, it was filled with cries of ohgodsyes and harder, more, faster, fuck and sofuckingperfect, and the mingling of their names, and the gorgeous, filthy sounds of skin against skin.
Much later, as they lay naked together drinking horrible brandy and watching the faerie lights twinkle on the tree, it was filled with soft whispers of regret that they’d waited so long, and of promises of want and just you, Harry. And of more kisses, because Draco was certain he would never get enough of kissing Harry Potter.
Especially not on Christmas.