Дженнифер (zhonnika) wrote in hd_holidays,
Дженнифер
zhonnika
hd_holidays

Happy H/D Holidays enchanted_jae!! | This Hope That You and I Will Bloom - R

Title: This Hope That You and I Will Bloom 1/2
By: owens_mom
Rating: R
For: enchanted_jae, who asked for Fluff, humor, happy endings! I surely tried my hardest. I know the summary sounds angsty, but it isn’t really, I promise.

Warnings: Sex of a homosexual nature and excessive use of the word faerie.
Summary: The war is fading into a distant memory, and Harry and Draco are adrift in a sea of loneliness as the holidays approach. Can they both find some happiness at Christmas this year?




Monday, November 30th

Draco swore softly and crumpled the parchment into a ball before flicking it across the desk with his index finger, hitting Hermione squarely in the forehead. She exhaled sharply through her nose and twitched her wand, not bothering to look up. Draco felt the hair on his head tighten, and reached up to feel a pigtail sticking out either side of his head.

“Classy, Granger.” He tapped his head with his wand and smoothed his hair out.

“Don’t worry. You still looked pretty.” Draco had opened his mouth to retort when the door to their office opened slightly. Harry Potter poked his head in, and he glanced at Draco before focusing on Hermione.

“You wanted to see me, Hermione?”

“Yeah, Harry, come on in.” Hermione cleared away some parchments she’d piled on a spare chair and shot Draco a meaningful look. The blond sighed; it appeared Potter was in for a ‘talking to’. He took in Harry as he sat down–his whole appearance seemed dull, like a shiny snitch tarnished and rumpled by the weight of too many hands and not enough attention. Draco stood up and stretched his arms over his head.

“I think we’ll be here late tonight, Hermione. I’m going to get some fresh air and caffeine. Fancy anything?” Hermione smiled at him indulgently.

“I wouldn’t say no to a bag of those chocolate covered espresso beans.” Draco rolled his eyes at her good naturedly and grabbed his cloak. He was halfway out the door before he paused and looked back.

“Do you want anything, Potter? Decaf non-fat mocha? Sugar free peppermint latte? Soy pumkin chai?”

Harry gave Draco a look that clearly said what the fuck are you on about?

“I’ll take your silence as a no.” Draco winked at Hermione and shot Harry a saucy grin before shutting the door behind him.

*********

Draco and Hermione were still working when the clock clicked over to 11:00 pm. As the only two curse breakers in the Ministry that specialized in Dark magic, they were the leads on a number of projects, including one to be presented to the Minister herself the next morning. Unfortunately they still had a couple of kinks to work out in their presentation.

Draco had joined Hermione’s office two months ago. The war was nearly two years over, and he’d spent his time between then and now on the continent-mostly drunk, often naked. He’d only returned to London when he realized that if he didn’t start using his brain soon, he’d melt into a vapid puddle of vodka and lube the next time the sun hit him.

“Hellebore,” Hermione said. Draco paused, brow furrowed, quill hovering above his parchment, before the word sunk in and he grinned.

“Of course. Lenten rose.” Both scrambled for books, pages flying, until Draco shoved a thick text towards Hermione, who scanned it quickly before beaming at Draco.

“That’s it!” She took notes while he stacked up the remaining books. Draco helped himself to an espresso bean and watched Hermione fill the bottom of her parchment with notes.

“Get everything straightened out with Potter then?”

“I don’t know,” she replied distractedly. “I want him to stay with us for the hols, but he refuses…”

“Afraid he’ll be in the way?” Hermione stopped writing and looked at Draco appraisingly, as if unsure how much she could or should say. Draco tried to school his face in a way that feigned both concern and disinterest, no small feat.

“Maybe. We don’t know if Ron will be out of the hospital by then, and if he is, he’ll still need extra care. Harry hasn’t said it outright, but I know he feels extremely guilty for what happened.”

“It wasn’t his fault,” Draco said.

“I know that. Ron knows that. But Harry is—”

“A bit hard on himself?”

“Yeah. I mean, they’re Aurors…” Hermione waved her hand in a helpless gesture.

“They knew the job was dangerous when they took it?” Draco offered. Hermione laughed bitterly.

“Something like that. So how was your weekend in France? How’s that sexy Seeker of yours?” Draco closed his eyes, his lips pressed together tight.

“Oh, you know, found out that Jean-Luc has been cheating on me. Nearly hexed his bits off. Can no longer go within fifty meters of the entire Gargouille du Paris Quidditch team.”

Hermione’s hand flew to her mouth in shock. “Oh Draco, I’m so sorry.”

He shrugged. “He was an ass, most of the time. Turns out some things aren’t as intriguing when you’re not drunk.”

Hermione shook her head. “I should open a business, counseling pitiful gay boys with broken hearts and delusions of loneliness.”

“It’s a little late for riddles, Hermione,” Draco mumbled as he rubbed his eyes sleepily. “Are you cheating on me with other pitiful gay boys?”

“You didn’t know? I thought you lot had some kind of secret signal or something. Though I guess it has only been six months or so since he came out,” Hermione mused quietly to herself before looking back up at Draco. “That’s why Harry and Ginny broke up. He realized she didn’t have the right bits. Then he had a little fling with Seamus after that-boy did that end messily-and then…”

Draco felt an espresso bean ricochet off his ear.

“Ow! Bloody fuck Granger, what was that for?”

“I think I know by now when you aren’t listening.” He scowled at her, rubbing his ear, and she threw him a falsely sweet smile.

“Anyway, it’s Harry’s first Christmas really alone, you know?” Draco nodded. Oh yes. I know quite well.

“Maybe he’d rather be alone,” Draco offered.

“I don’t want him to be alone! Christmas has always been a little hard for him. I can’t imagine what it was like before Hogwarts. At school, his family would send him things like a toothpick or a tissue as a gift,” Hermione explained. Draco snorted, his eyebrows flying up in disbelief.

“It’s true! And Christmas at Hogwarts was nice-festive and all-but it’s not the same. Then the war made things difficult, and last year he had Ginny. I mean, he could always go to the Weasleys’, they’re like family, but…” Hermione shook her head sadly and didn’t finish. They sat in silence for a long while, listening to the clock tick its way towards midnight.

“Harry just deserves some happiness. Something constant, something meaningful.”

“Indeed,” Draco replied. Hermione yawned widely and stood up to go.

“I’ve got to get to bed. I’ll see you at 8:00 am.”

Draco groaned. “Don’t remind me.”

Hermione gave Draco a small smile, locking onto his eyes with her own. “You know, Draco, you deserve better, too. Get some sleep, okay?”


~~~ * ~~~ * ~~~ * ~~~ * ~~~ * ~~~ * ~~~

Tuesday, December 1st

Harry stood in the queue at the bank of fireplaces in the Ministry lobby. God but he couldn’t wait to get home, and he groaned when he realized it was only Tuesday. He’d been saddled with a desk job while the inquiry continued into Ron’s accident, and his body ached from sitting on his arse all day. Finally at the front of the line, Harry grabbed a handful of Floo Powder and went home.

The first thing he noticed as he tumbled out onto the floor of his living room was what he could only think of as the overwhelming smell of Christmas. His eyes then fell on a tall evergreen tree in the corner, bare save for a parchment, rolled tight and secured with a red ribbon, tucked onto a branch. Just the hell what I need, he thought.

“Hello?” Harry called before he did a quick sweep of his house and a series of spells on the tree. The scan came up empty, and he walked over and reached for the scroll. The ribbon was a vibrant red, rich and deep, with traces of gold wound through it like tiny streams merging and separating. He slid the ribbon off and unrolled the parchment, glancing first at the bottom. No name attached. Perfect. The hand writing was neat, printed letters occasionally flowing together in script. Harry took a deep breath and started to read.

Harry – I hope you haven’t set the tree on fire trying to suss out if it was dangerous. It’s a Norway Spruce, the most common Christmas tree in Britain, mostly due to its fragrance. But the pressing question on your lips is not what kind of tree this is, is it? Knowing you, you want the ‘whys’, and the ‘whos’ and the ‘what fors’.

I look at us, Harry, and see two people whose 24 years of life have been defined by war. Here we are, celebrating our second Christmas since it ended, and it just seems like it should mean so much more. So rather than wallow in self pity like I’d planned, I concocted a rather silly scheme to take you on as a Christmas project. Maybe in the end we’ll have figured out how to create new traditions and meanings out of this time of year.

The tree is gift #1. 23 more to go. One for each day until Christmas. One for each year of our life thus far. I know you, and I know you’ll try to figure out who I am. Please don’t. Just consider me…

-- your Christmas Faerie


“Christmas Faerie,” Harry whispered. I wish, his mind replied. Harry read the letter through again and sighed. Probably just Hermione. Christmas traditions. He’d never had any of his own, really, only been involved in what was already in place. He looked at the note again, and didn’t get the feeling that his Christmas Faerie was a crazy stalker. Still, better safe than sorry. He changed the wards and re-keyed his Floo connection before grabbing a beer and settling on the couch. He stared at the tree until late into the night.


~~~ * ~~~ * ~~~ * ~~~ * ~~~ * ~~~ * ~~~


Wednesday, December 2nd

“Hey Malfoy, is Hermione around?” Harry asked. Draco glanced up from the Runes text in front of him.

“Come now Potter, don’t you know how to knock?” Harry dropped into Hermione’s chair and reached over to the door, rapping it three times with his knuckles.

“Better?” Harry smirked. Draco rolled his eyes and leaned back in his chair, stretching his arms back over his head. He watched Harry glance at the spot where Draco’s shirt rode up, exposing his stomach, and suppressed a wicked grin as Harry reddened and looked away. Interesting.

“Hermione is out sick today.”

“What?!”

“I know,” Draco said gravely. “But even the perfect aren’t immune to the special kind of poisoning one gets from Chairman Mao’s Fine Cuisine of Hunan. I warned her to lay off the sweet and sour chicken. I told her to get the tofu. It is officially not my fault. She went home early yesterday after nearly puking in the garbage bin.” Draco wrinkled his nose in disgust, and Harry eyed him suspiciously, certain he was covering Hermione’s tracks.

“Well… I’ll just head on over there, see if I can help her out…”

“You do that,” Draco said, turning back to his book. Harry frowned at him, perplexed, before leaving.

*********

A not-so-quick Firecall to Hermione proved she was indeed sick, and she had not in fact slipped a two meter tall tree into his flat the previous night. After interrogating him for 20 minutes-15 of which he spent fervently wishing she’d be struck with a cramp and go throw up so he could leave-Hermione concluded that, while the Christmas Faerie was odd, he or she was probably harmless.

“You know Melody in Accounting? She tried to implement a Secret Santa thing where everyone draws names and gets gifts for that person. The idea didn’t fly, but maybe she decided to take you on as a special project?” Harry groaned, thanked Hermione, and wished her a quick recovery before crawling out of the fire, grabbing his cloak, and heading home.

He was surprised to see his tree covered in tiny white lights. So much for changing the locks, he thought wryly. In the darkness of the room, the lights glowed soft and ethereal. Harry shrugged off his cloak and walked over to the tree. A parchment was once again nestled in the branches.

Gift #2 – Lights. A simple thing, really, but important. And isn’t that the crux of all this? It’s the simple things that bring us the most pleasure. Anyway, you can charm them any way you’d like. Growing up we did what most Wizarding families did - charmed the lights into faeries. Unlike the ones you may have seen at Hogwarts, ours shifted colors gradually, so every time you looked at the tree it was glowing gold, or blue, or silver. There are other traditions, however, and I’ve listed several charms below. Give them a try and find what you like. My friend’s grandmother was from Hungary, and when she came to visit, they used the Stellatus charm to create a thousand little stars twinkling on the tree. It was quite beautiful.

--CF


Harry sighed and looked at the lights on the tree before grabbing a beer and settling in to his favorite chair, note in hand. With lazy flicks of his wand, he went through the charms listed for him. After a dazzling array of faeries, enchanted candles, sparkling diamonds, and glittering icicles, Harry settled on the stars. He watched them twinkle late into the night.


~~~ * ~~~ * ~~~ * ~~~ * ~~~ * ~~~ * ~~~


Monday, December 7th

Draco sighed before draining the remains of his lukewarm tea. He looked at the mug Hermione had given him this morning and rolled his eyes. A parade of seven animals circled the cup, each wearing a shirt bearing a day of the week, led by a grizzly holding a sign stating “Mondays are always bears.” She always complained about Draco’s attitude their first day back at work after the weekend, but Draco didn’t see it; he didn’t feel any more surly than he usually did. With a grunt, he pushed himself up out of his chair and headed to the break room for more caffeine.

Draco was rather enjoying his newfound role as the Christmas Faerie. He’d bestowed Harry with ornaments for the past five days and found a perverse thrill in trying to break past the wards at the Gryffindor’s flat over the weekend, knowing Harry could return home any moment. Draco didn’t think it was just his imagination that Harry’s spirit seemed a little brighter since Draco had started leaving him gifts, and it only helped further Draco’s resolve to see this crazy thing through. He knew Harry had been sniffing around the office, trying to find the culprit. Draco was pretty sure Harry would back off now, since the debacle with Melody in Accounting on Friday. Draco couldn’t help but grin as he remembered her shrieking voice yelling, “Mr. Potter, I don’t know what you are playing at, but I’m a happily married woman!”

Draco heard voices speaking in hushed tones as he turned the corner to the break room, and paused just outside the door when he realized it was Hermione and Harry.

“Yeah, more ornaments this weekend. So now I’ve got little Quidditch brooms that zoom from branch to branch, and those luminous holly berries like we used to have at school, plus all the ornaments from the end of the week. I had to transfigure the tiny golden owls into hippogriffs, they were driving Hedwig mad.” Draco heard a spoon clinking in a mug before it clattered onto the countertop. “You’ll really have to stop by and see it when you get a chance, Hermione. It’s quite something. How did things go this weekend?”

“Okay, I suppose. Molly helped me get the house all ready for Ron,” Hermione said with a sigh. “I didn’t think there would be very much to do, you know? But we had to rearrange everything, and I haven’t really cleaned the house properly for a while now, so that took forever.”

Harry and Hermione lapsed into silence, and Draco turned to leave in case they walked out and found him hovering by the doorway. He made it two steps before Hermione’s voice stopped him. He could tell by her tone that what she was saying to Harry was a classic Granger demand disguised as a request.

“So have you heard about the Charity Quidditch Match the Ministry is holding? I’m in charge of sign-ups, and I really think you should sign up as one of the Seekers.” Draco pictured Hermione pinning Harry with a winning smile, and smirked to himself.

“Oh no. No way, Hermione.”

“Harry! It’s for charity! All the proceeds from ticket sales go to children who were left homeless in the war-to get them Christmas presents when they might otherwise receive nothing at all.”

“Hermione, I don’t want to…” Harry trailed off, sounding like a whiny toddler.

“Please Harry? Look, it’s all in fun, Ministry employees get to sign up, there are two teams-the red and the green-and it’s just like a pick-up game, really.”

“I don’t know, Hermione, I really don’t want—”

Harry stopped talking as Draco walked through the door and wedged himself between the two friends, reaching up to pull a box of tea off the shelf. Draco poured some water in to his mug and glanced at the parchment in Hermione’s hand.

“What’s that, Granger?” he asked. Hermione’s eyes narrowed, flicking to Harry before settling back on Draco.

“Charity Quidditch Match, remember? Care to sign up?” She held the parchment towards Draco, and he pulled it from her fingers.

“Hmmm, as long as you make sure that dipshit Smith doesn’t sign up for the green team, I’m in. Potter? You going to play?” Draco turned and shook the hair out of his eyes before staring at Harry. Harry hesitated, and Draco moved in for the kill. Leaning in towards Harry, he whispered in his ear, “I know how much you enjoy riding a broomstick.” He felt Harry shiver slightly and tried not to grin. Draco turned and picked up his mug before sauntering out the door. Harry stared after him for several seconds before turning to look at Hermione.

“Fine. I’ll play.”


~~~ * ~~~ * ~~~ * ~~~ * ~~~ * ~~~ * ~~~



Wednesday, December 9th

Harry was surprised to come home and not find a gift for him wrapped in that familiar red ribbon. Yesterday’s present-glittering silver tinsel made from spun sugar-sparkled brilliantly in the candlelight. He hunted around the house, and when he found nothing Harry felt simmering disappointment settle into his gut. Maybe his Christmas Faerie was tired of their little game. He managed to putter around the house until well past midnight before conceding defeat and falling into bed.

Harry woke the next morning to the sound of rain pounding against his window. He’d forgotten the warming charm to go along with his alarm, and the air in his flat was freezing. He snuggled down under his covers, hoping to return to the dream he was having that involved long bodies leaning back and stretching, arms overhead, eyes enticing. He stretched his legs out, working out the kinks in his muscles, and froze when his foot hit something and knocked it off the bed with a thud. Harry stayed still for several seconds, and with a calculated burst of energy, grabbed his glasses in one hand and wand in the other. His room was empty, and he crawled across his bed to peer down at a box sitting on the floor at the foot of his bed. A box tied with red ribbon. Harry sighed and picked it up with shaky hands.

Harry,

I meant to have this for you when you got home last night, as per usual, but this particular thing hit me too close to home. Suffice it to say, you aren’t the only one without much extended family this Christmas. My family actually started celebrating Christmas less and less as I got older, as if it is a holiday only for children, not young adults. I missed it terribly, but never said anything. After all, I was almost an adult, right? Best to act the part.

This gift, Gift # 9, is a tree topper. Such a mundane little thing, some people don’t even bother with it. But my fondest memory is of my father lifting me up so I could place it on top of the tree. This one I’ve given you is similar to what I had as a child – you can transfigure it into whatever you want, by the way…angel, star, pointy hat, I don’t care – this is a sun. My father always told me the ancient stories of Yule – the return of the sun god after a half year’s sleep. Our tree topper always reminded us of our ancient roots as Wizards, and helped us honor those old stories of magic. It represents an important and dare I say carefree time in my life, something that was barely a memory until I found this.

I almost didn’t send this. I almost told you nothing, and I wanted to tell you everything. Sometimes I wish we were speaking face to face, but I know I chose this. Find something meaningful to you for this one, Harry. Cherish it.


Harry sat on his bed for a long, long time, staring at the golden sun, before padding into the living room and reaching up to set it atop his tree.



~~~ * ~~~ * ~~~ * ~~~ * ~~~ * ~~~ * ~~~

Friday, December 11th

Draco had stayed home from work on Wednesday, feigning a migraine. He hadn’t brought the tree topper to Harry’s house until shortly before sunrise, and had spent most of the day in bed trying to sleep off the depression. He needed to shake himself out of this spiral of despair, or he’d never be able to finish what he started. A change of tack was needed to keep the Christmas Faerie spirit alive. Alcohol, Draco decided, was the way to go. He showered Harry with the makings of traditional Christmas beverages, bringing him wassail on Wednesday and mulled wine on Thursday.

Draco was eating his lunch at his desk, so as not to interrupt his calculations, when Hermione stormed in, pink cheeked and breathless.

“Oh Draco! It’s snowing!” He took in her damp hair and bright eyes as she unwound a long black scarf from her neck.

“In December? Will wonders never cease,” he drawled, flashing her a grin.

“Shut it, you cynic. It’s so beautiful…the sky is full of those big fat flakes that look like they are falling in slow motion. Well, I’ve got to get to that meeting. Sure you don’t want to sit in on it?”

Draco merely snorted, which Hermione correctly interpreted as are you fucking kidding me? She grabbed her notes and left. Draco worked for another half hour before inspiration struck. He grinned to himself and scrawled a note to Hermione before tossing it on her desk and hurrying out the door.

*******

Harry knocked on Hermione and Draco’s office door at half four and let himself in when he got no response. He was supposed to have drinks with Hermione after work, but it looked as if she was still in a meeting. He saw a note on the desk and went to read it, assuming Hermione’s work had won out over her social life yet again. But the note was not addressed to him. It was for Hermione, written in all too familiar handwriting.

Granger – had to run. See you Monday. DM

DM. Draco was the Christmas Faerie. Harry felt vaguely faint.

“Hey! Harry! Sorry I’m late…meeting ran long. What’s that?” Hermione asked, pointing towards Draco’s note with her elbow as she settled a huge pile of parchment onto her desk.

“Nothing. Note from Malfoy telling you he went home early.”

“Ah. You ready to go?” Harry nodded, and slipped the note in his pocket. He spent the next two hours sipping beer and pretending to listen to Hermione, his thoughts never straying far from Draco.

Harry finally begged off and went home, all but running through the Floo to see what would be left for him tonight. A parchment rolled and tied with that red ribbon was on his table, and he opened it quickly.

Harry – Do you realize what happened today? The first snow of the winter. Well, technically, it isn’t winter yet, but that first snow is always, well, magical, isn’t it? And since I’m dredging up all my old Christmas memories, I remembered something my grandmother did once for me. When I was seven, the first snow we had was on Christmas Eve. She took me outside and taught me how to freeze snowflakes in midair and turn them into glass. We did that until our fingers were frozen, and then we hung them on the tree. They were exquisite. My grandmother died a few months later, and the first snow always reminds me of her.

I caught some today and hung them on your tree, in case it had all turned to rain and slush by the time you got home. Enjoy.


Harry walked over to his tree and was delighted to find perfect glass snowflakes of all shapes and sizes dangling from the branches. He couldn’t believe that Draco Malfoy of all people was doing this, but then, he wondered, why was it so hard to imagine? What did he really know about Draco anyway? The difference between Hogwarts Draco and the Draco that sat in Hermione’s office was…well it wasn’t night and day, but it was pretty close. Did it matter who Draco had been? Shouldn’t it only matter who he was today? Draco was human. And without family. Without many friends, anymore. And without a significant other, from what Hermione had told him. Maybe they weren’t so different after all. Plus, as his subconscious so often reminded him these days, Draco was dead sexy.

Harry sighed and rested his hand on the antique humidor Remus had given him for his birthday. He lifted the lid and pulled out all the notes Draco had left with his gifts, and settled into his chair to re-read them. Now that he knew who his Christmas Faerie was, Harry mused, maybe he could turn the tables and do something nice for Draco as well.



~~~ * ~~~ * ~~~ * ~~~ * ~~~ * ~~~ * ~~~



Monday, December 14th

Harry went to work feeling lighter than he had in a long time. His stomach was full of butterflies-he knew better than anyone that he was pretty damn transparent-and if he ran into Draco he’d probably stammer and blush and give away the fact that he knew all about his Christmas Faerie. He didn’t have to worry for long.

“Have a seat in Draco’s chair, Harry,” Hermione said with a vague wave of her hand. “He’s out with another migraine.”

Harry frowned. “Does he get them often?” Hermione shook her head and shrugged.

“I’m not sure, actually. This is only the second one he has had since he’s worked here, the first one being –”

“The one last week,” Harry finished unthinkingly, and Hermione arched an eyebrow.

“What?!” Harry said, with an attempt at wide-eyed innocence.

“Nothing.” Hermione grinned, giving the Cheshire Cat a run for his money. Harry rolled his eyes and watched his friend gather up a pile of parchments. “Look Harry, I’ve got a meeting this morning, so…”

“I’ll let myself out,” he said. Hermione gave her friend a once over and nodded before grabbing her quill and maneuvering out the door. Harry leaned back in Draco’s chair and sighed. He hoped that the blond was all right, and thought about the gifts he’d received this weekend; just sweets like mince pies and Christmas cakes. Surely that wouldn’t have set Draco off, he mused, before remembering that the last thing that had given Draco a “migraine” was a Christmas tree topper. One could never tell what fragments of your life would hold tight in your heart.

Harry looked absently around Draco’s desk. There were no personal items to be found. No Quidditch magazines no trinkets or paperweights, no photos watching him work. Harry glanced out the door before slowly pulling out one of the desk drawers. It was stuffed with files, alphabetized and color-coded. Harry rolled his eyes. If Draco and Hermione had been friends at Hogwarts, they’d have been a nerd tour de force. The other drawers held similar things–pamphlets and files and artifacts.

Harry sighed and leaned back, noticing the small narrow drawer above his thighs. He pulled it out slowly, his eyes locked on the hallway as the drawer stuck a bit. He jiggled it slightly, and it pulled out further. Quills. Paperclips. Ink. And a small black and white picture of a young Narcissa Malfoy, cradling a wisp of a toddler in her arms, bouncing him up and down and waving his hand for him as he frowned at the camera. Harry watched the picture repeat over and over, and his heart ached. He’d never known his mother, and he still missed her terribly. Was it just as hard to have had a mother for twenty years before losing her, suddenly, senselessly? He slid the drawer closed and rested his head on Draco’s desk.



~~~ * ~~~ * ~~~ * ~~~ * ~~~ * ~~~ * ~~~


Tuesday, December 15th

Draco had just managed to jab himself in the chin with his quill when he heard Hermione’s and Harry’s voices in the hall. He cast what he hoped was the correct cleaning charm, licked his thumb and rubbed the spot on his face for good measure, and ran his hands over his hair to smooth it into place. Honestly, he could be such a girl. He settled into a casual but indifferent working position and pretended to read a memo.

“All right, so I’ll see you Saturday at ten at St. Mungo’s,” Harry said, stopping just outside the door of the office.

“Yes, thanks again for helping get Ron home,” Hermione replied. “Enjoy your time off, Harry.”

“I will. I better get going,” Harry said. Draco refused to look up, and could only see out of the corner of his eye Harry’s lean form braced casually against the doorframe, his hands jammed in his pockets, one foot crossed over the other.

“Bye,” Hermione said, settling herself at her desk. Harry stood there longer than was necessary, and Draco was relieved when Harry finally pulled himself upright and walked away. With a sigh, he sat upright and looked at Hermione. She was staring at him, her elbow on the table with her arm bent up, mouth resting on her fist. When their eyes met, she snickered.

“What?” Draco asked irritably.

“Nothing. Your non-flirting is very fetching.” He scowled at her and busied himself with some fresh parchment.

“How was that flirting? I was working!”

“Of course, of course. Working.” She nodded at him seriously before giggling again. Draco cast a strong sticking charm towards Hermione’s things from under his desk and got up and left the office. He was halfway down the hall when he heard her indignant shriek. Serves her right. Flirting. Draco snorted and shook his head.

As Draco roamed the halls, he pondered how to proceed with his plan. What was his goal, really? Was he really being honest with himself, thinking that he only started this little scheme as a way to simply cheer Harry up at the holidays? Which head was he thinking with, anyway? Besides, the entire situation had moved well past the realm of easygoing gifts and into the terrain of heartfelt emotional confessions. Draco sometimes felt like the hand that wrote the notes to Harry was from another beast entirely. He’d never been that open with anyone, and the anonymity was making him reckless.

And how could he have thought his feelings toward Harry wouldn’t grow as well? Draco knew the stupid git was good looking, had figured that bit of information out a long time ago despite a supreme reluctance to acknowledge it. Draco had to admit to himself that he had begun to frequent the 3rd floor more than was strictly necessary. Hell, with his job, he usually only had to go there twice a month, tops. Since last week, he’d made about fifteen unnecessary visits, wandering the halls, hoping for a glance at Harry. Smitten. That was what he was. This was dangerous territory indeed.

Draco turned the corner and saw Harry waiting at the lifts, chatting up a very good looking and very gay Spence Nichols. Spence was an Unspeakable, young and fresh from Hogwarts, and Draco and Hermione had agreed that he rated pretty high on the cute factor. Unspeakably gorgeous, they had joked. Now Draco was watching Spence treat Harry to coy smiles and flirtatious body language, and Draco’s eyes nearly crossed with jealousy. Unspeakably slutty is more like it.

It wouldn’t do for Harry to see Draco riled up in a jealous rage, so the blond took a steadying breath and decided to show the little upstart who was boss. He strode up to the pair, sparing Spence a look that would have put a Basilisk to shame, before squeezing his way between them to press the lift button. Draco turned his back on Spence, and gave Harry a dazzling smile.

“Any big plans with your time off, Potter?”

Harry shifted on his feet and looked at the floor. “Er…no, not really.” Draco narrowed his eyes slightly. Not that he should expect Harry to tell him anything about his personal life, but Harry seemed awfully uncomfortable at the question. Interesting.

“Well, you best get some rest. Big game in a few days. I plan to fly circles around you,” Draco declared. Harry snorted and glanced up at the blond. The lift gave a soft ding, and Draco smiled wickedly at Harry.

“Going to stay home on Friday and…” Draco leaned slightly into Harry’s personal space, “polish my broomstick.” Juvenile, yes, but Draco knew it would garner a reaction out of Harry. Never one to disappoint, Harry turned beet red and scooted himself into the waiting lift, avoiding Draco’s eye. Draco’s gaze never left Harry’s face, and as the doors slid closed, Harry looked up and met his eye. Draco winked and walked away.



~~~ * ~~~ * ~~~ * ~~~ * ~~~ * ~~~ * ~~~

* CONTINUED IN PART TWO *
Tags: [fic], [long/chaptered fic], rated: r, round: winter 2006
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