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18 December 2007 @ 03:19 pm
Happy H/D Holidays, Pettydreams  
Author: crimson_stained
Recipient: pettydreams
Title: Last Christmas
Pairing(s): Harry/Draco, past Harry/Ginny
Summary: Landing a job as Harry Potter’s new secretary, Draco finds that he has more to offer than a nice cup of coffee.
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended.
Warning(s): n/a
Deathly Hallows compliant? Yes, but no epilogue
Word Count: 6,215
Author's Notes: Thanks to my betas BM and RT…BM for her insightful comments and RT for her amazing eye for detail.



The first Christmas Eve after the war found him cold and alone in a shabby flat. Candlelight flickered against the wall in an imitation of a fireplace. He sat on a worn and dirty futon in the middle of room, wrapped in his thin blanket that could not keep him warm against the winter air.
Heating charms conjured empty promises of warmth but he felt numb anyway. He curled and flexed his frozen toes just to make sure they hadn’t fallen off.

This was not the lot the world had intended for him. At birth, he was assured luxuries so vast they were unimaginable by the average person. Extravagance spoiled him and convinced him that he could be invincible.

He longed for his childhood room where he had his own grand tree decorated with expensive and precious ornaments. He even had his own fireplace that warmed the whole room and a bed big enough for four. He missed his lush blankets and thick wool socks.

He had taken grandeur for granted, and now wished for all the world that he could take the past eighteen years of his life back. He had not intended any of this for himself. Where was the glory his father had sworn he would have? Why had he followed this path so blindly?

Yet, this is where his choices had led him; bad choices that had led to worse things. And perhaps the worst thing he had ever done wasn't that he had followed his father’s footsteps, but that he had survived that gutless journey. Now he had nothing, and no one but himself. As the Muggles next door would say, he had made his bed and was now lying in it.

Yet, on this 24th of December, Draco Malfoy had never felt more alive. There was a feeling tingling beneath that frozen layer of skin that excited him. He had thought it was hope at first. The hope that he would be able to climb his way up from these ruins. That things could change. Yet, this feeling was different than hope. It was more urgent and expectant than wistful yearning.

It was fiery determination. Determination to change things himself. Determination to pull out of this and push himself back into life. This time, he would not grab so blindly at straws. He would make his own fortune.

Draco Malfoy was ready to live again.

He clutched a quill tightly in his hand and dipped it into the last bit of ink he had left. He scribbled furiously on a scrap of parchment, writing with purpose.

There were debts to be repaid first.

--

The second Christmas Eve found Draco Malfoy hard at work in the Ministry’s Auror Department. He had chosen tonight to work late. Not just because the Ministry was warmer than his flat and there was still a low hum of human activity to drown out echoes of his loneliness. Not because he had to combat darkness and evil that never slept, because he didn’t, he just had too many files of messy paperwork to organize and put away. It was because he wanted to.

He worked at the desk of Harry J. Potter as a…Receptionist? Secretary? He wasn’t sure which term was more demeaning. Yet, this thankless job was one that he had chosen. Something that he needed -- and now, though he’d never admit it -- wanted to do.

Draco had never forgotten the Fiendfyre in the Room of Requirement at the end of the war. Though no one constantly reminded him of those terrifying moments when he thought he would perish by the cursed flames, and how Harry Potter had saved him by grasping his hand that was so sweaty he had thought it was melting, he reminded himself. He owed Potter a life-debt, after all, and he had never let himself forget that. Ancient law would never let him forget.

So now he kept busy by sitting at a desk and pushing Potter’s paper. It was the only way he was able to help…or rather, the only way he was allowed to help. He took Potter’s owls, labeled his case files, and organized his schedule. He even made Potter’s coffee and brought it to him in the afternoon (Potter took tea in the morning).

At first, Draco clung to some desperate hope that people would send Potter cursed letters or ambush him in his office. Then Draco could valiantly save the day and not only end the debt, but end up a hero.

This dream never came true. And by the end of one year as Potter’s desk slave, he didn’t really care if it came true or not. Well, he did care if someone attempted to murder his boss, but he didn’t care really about ending the debt.

Bringing Potter his coffee had come to be Draco’s favorite time of day. Of course, he had hated it at first when he started doing it in January; then, bringing Potter coffee had gone terribly.

“Can I have a cup of coffee?” Potter had called out from his door.

“Get it yourself,” Draco retorted as he furiously tried to make sense of Potter’s messy filing system. “What am I? Your servant?”

There had been a pause and then a snort. “Sort of. Aren’t you kind of supposed to do those kinds of things?”

Draco had stomped into the break room, muttering about why he had thought this would be a better way to spend his year. At least moping around in his flat had been something purely selfish…and he really only liked to do things for himself.

“Here is your vile drink, Potter.” Draco had thrust the steaming mug of what looked like black bile in Potter’s face. He considered the drink uncouth. Even after a year in squalor, he still believed that tea was the only beverage appropriate for a dignified Englishman. What was coffee? Hot water and caffeinated beans mixed together into a bitter liquid.

Potter had taken an experimentally curious sip and almost gagged. He stared at it and wrinkled his nose. “You didn’t put anything in it.”

Draco had taken this flat statement as an accusation. “Of course I didn’t. Do you think I have a death wish? Slipping poisons into this heathen attempt at an afternoon caffeine fix?”

Potter had just continued to stare, although the corner of his lip had begun to twitch. Amusement? Anger? Draco had not been able to tell.

“I meant, you didn’t put any cream or sugar in it.”

Draco had snatched the cup away and snapped out of embarrassment, “Well, how many spoonfuls and lumps, then Potter?”

Potter grinned, “As many as it takes. I like to take it creamy white but not too sweet.”

And that had unnerved Draco immensely.

By March, Draco knew exactly how many spoonfuls of cream and lumps of sugar it took to make Potter’s coffee perfect.

Eleven spoonfuls of cream turned the coffee into what Potter thought was a perfect shade of milky white. Three lumps of sugar made the coffee sweet, but not too sweet. Potter seemed to enjoy that bitter aftertaste. He knew how to make Potter’s coffee better than the man’s gormless girlfriend.

Ginny Weasley was more insipid and foolish than the rest of her family. The way she doted on Potter was pathetic. She would gush at him and her voice would float out to Draco’s desk until he wanted to throw paperweights at her head.

She always brought Potter frilly drinks with strange names. Frappucino. Cappucino. The drinks usually had towers of whipped cream and chocolate, and Potter would throw them away the moment she left, muttering that they were too sweet. Each time he did it, Draco felt incredibly satisfied. As if his one task of bringing Potter the perfect up of coffee was equivalent to the man saving his life.

Now it was December, and Draco found what he had deemed "The Coffee Exchanges" rather pleasant. He and Potter would talk about inane things like the weather or what they had for lunch.

“Some dark clouds out there,” Potter would remark.

Draco would look out the window. “Another storm coming in probably.”

“A lot of those these days. Fourth one this week.”

“Terrible to be Muggles struggling in the wind with their black flappy things.”

“Umbrellas?”

It was interesting how many new words Draco learned from Potter just from these conversations.

“I think Fredrich’s has better turkey sandwiches than the diner across the street.”

“I didn’t think you could afford Fredrich’s. Aren’t they a bit expensive for lunch?” Potter at least had the grace to look apologetic after the comment.

Draco flushed. “Better quality materials. I care about what I put in my mouth.”

And then Potter smirked. “I bet you do.”

Draco frowned. “Yes. I do.”

And Potter just kept smirking.

For Draco, Potter was someone he could actually talk to. Or rather someone who was willing to talk to him and actually cared about his thoughts on the new corner deli’s turkey pesto sandwich.

On this eve, Potter was also working late. Draco had done the schedule for him. He could have left early, but he didn’t want to. There was comfort in the rustle of papers and Potter’s quill scratching away in the next room.

“You could have left already, Malfoy,” Potter murmured as he put on his coat at the end of the night. “You’ve a late start on the holiday break already.”

“And let you ring in the New Year with un-filed paperwork? Tsk, tsk Potter. Most of us wait until after the new year before breaking resolutions.”

Potter smiled, “I haven’t made any yet. But you might want to make yours not slipping on the ice. I can’t have you hobbling around the office with a broken leg carrying cups of coffee around.”

He let the office door close with a quiet click.

At the brink of the New Year, Draco liked to think that he had one friend in the world.

--

The third Christmas Eve after the war found Draco Malfoy listening to the often-repeated soundtrack of Harry Potter’s woes. This one was Track 3: The Problem with Ginny Weasley and Redheaded Women in General. It was an awful substitute for the dreadful Muggle holiday music Potter had been playing since the beginning of December.

That morning, Potter had come in with that hang-dog look that suggested he had probably taken a long tongue-lashing the night before. He stared into the coffee Draco gave him as if it would provide all the answers in the world.

“Just because I go to her house every year for the holidays doesn’t mean anything. I’ve gone every year since I’ve met Ron. Back then it didn’t mean I wanted to marry her. Why should it mean that now?”

“Might be because you’ve been dating for over three years now and she’s expecting advance promises of your future time investment.”

Potter blanched and had worked so slowly the rest of the day that Draco was sure he was trying to work late on purpose.

For a while now, Potter had begun to tell Draco all about his day whenever Draco brought in the cup of coffee. It had started with the details of his Auror expeditions. Truth be told, fighting crime was not as exciting as Draco had imagined. Then again, no story could ever be worth telling when compared to the war they had both survived.

“There was an attic ghoul that escaped into Muggle London today.” Potter tossed a file onto Draco’s desk and slumped in a swiveling chair, looking exhausted. “Bloody thing. The Obliviation Teams will have a bloody time cleaning up the mess.”


“Seriously? Is this what they are paying you all these galleons for? Chasing after creatures so unimaginative they could have come from Muggle children’s story books?”

Potter huffed a sigh. “He was very hard to capture. Kept weaving in and out of traffic and into the district shops. He was noticed. Dozens of mysterious coincidences are hard even for Muggles to ignore.”

“A ghoul, Potter?” Draco shook his head in disbelief. “And I wondered what you really did all day. I must say I’m a bit disappointed.”

The next day, Potter had come back from his mission with a slightly more impressive tale.

“A corrupted house elf tried to poison someone today.” Potter paused. “I guess he gave himself away when he started slamming his ears in the oven.”

“You’re going to need to come up with something more gripping than that, Potter. I spend all day waiting on tenterhooks for you to return with some heroic escapade only to find you’ve been off arresting a house-elf?”

Ever since then, Potter had come back telling Draco stories about his adventures against the post-war criminal masterminds. Not the most heroic, but they entertained Draco all the same.

Soon, Potter had begun to indulge Draco in his adventures outside of work. Some were bawdy bar stories involving his Gryffindor sycophants. Most were verbal complaints against Ginny Weasley.

“Can you get a message to Ginny that I’ll be working late tonight?” Potter sipped at his coffee with his feet resting loutishly on his desk.

“You don’t have anything to do for the rest of today,” Draco pointed out. “Actually, you could just go home now.”

“I don’t want to go home now,” Potter had sulked. Very unlike a man who had been told he could leave work hours early.

“And why not? Surely there are plenty of better things at home than here.”

“If I went home now, I’d have to help Ginny unpack all her boxes.” Potter grimaced and after a pause added, “She just moved in.”

Draco raised his eyebrows, not expecting that nugget of information. He was surprised by it actually. He had thought the young Weasley had moved in years ago and had been busy being a Potter-baby-making machine…as disgusting as an image that had brought forth in his mind.

He cleared his throat. “How chivalrous of you, Potter. Leaving a lady to lift heavy boxes by herself.”

Potter shrugged and crossed his arms around himself defensively. “She’s the one that wanted to move in.” He looked rather shifty.

“Going to miss having a bachelor pad?”

Draco had never imagined Potter to appear so very afraid of commitment. Especially towards someone he had supposedly been committed to the day he set foot into this world.

“Don’t get me wrong, I like her a lot,” Potter had insisted. “I’ve known her for so long, and we’ve been dating for years now. It’s just that I don’t completely know yet.”

“Know what?”

“If I can spend the rest of my life with her. Wizards live to be over a hundred. Do I really want to spend a century with one person?”

“Potter, if you don’t know by now, you’ll probably never know.”

Potter had simply nodded as if he had accepted this bit of wisdom.

So now, Christmas Eve, Potter was taking as much time as possible to leave, and from what Draco could tell, avoiding Ginny Weasley.

“Have you ever been in love?” Potter asked as he adjusted his scarf for the fifteenth time. The lamplight made him seem as if were glowing, thought Draco offhandedly.

“No. But I could imagine what it might feel like,” Draco replied, thinking about his rather short life thus far and everything he hadn’t experienced.

“What do you think it might feel like?” Potter wondered curiously.

And Draco drew in a breath. Love. Everything he knew about it was from what he knew it wasn’t. It wasn’t the way Lucius loved Narcissa. Not the way Pansy had claimed she loved him back in Hogwarts. It wasn’t something he had ever experienced, but there were certain things he had come to hope for out of love.


He could barely put his mouth around the words and was almost ashamed of the wistfulness in his voice. “To love someone, you should be willing to truly live for them. Someone who surpasses all your other passions and makes all your sufferings worth surviving. There shouldn’t be hesitancies. You should realize that the world is better faced when that person is by your side, that you need them, and not just for selfish reasons. You should find your own energy in them that you never knew was there. You should feel challenged. Reinvigorated everyday.” Draco hadn’t realized his voice had taken on a ferocious quality.

This outpouring of what he wanted; what he wanted to strive for. And the frustrating impossibility of any of it, because the only person in the world he interacted with was his idiot of a boss. Did Potter not recognize the limitless potential of his own life that he could be taking advantage of? That he could explore and extort the opportunities that his life’s choices had carved out for him? That he had a chance at something Draco could never have?

A quiet pause, and Draco thought he could hear wheels clicking in Potter’s head.

“I don’t think I’m in love with Ginny,” Potter confessed as he opened the door. He glanced over his shoulder. “I trust you won’t tell anyone, Draco.”

The clock struck midnight, and Draco believed that Potter…no. Harry. Harry had given him the gift of trust. Something that he had never had from anyone else before. Something he had finally earned.

He had told Harry of everything he wanted, and Harry had hinted at everything he didn’t want.

Of course Harry had ruined the afterglow by calling out, “And I won’t tell anyone about my suspicions that you’ve been attempting to write love poems when you’ve supposed to be filing papers.”

--

By the fourth Christmas Eve after the war, Draco Malfoy found himself hopelessly in love. And it was nothing like any of that fantastic drivel he had spewed to Harry the year before. It was nothing like that at all. It was nothing close to wonderful.

In fact, it was a terrible affliction to be in love with Harry Potter.

The only thing he had been right about was that he felt challenged. Frustratingly challenged. And he supposed that yes, all those things about having all his other passions surpassed and having his world brightened was true, but these truths and epiphanies were painful.

He felt more hopeless than he ever had. More hopeless than when he had been just a boy with dirty hair and grubby robes hiding in a disintegrating flat.

He approached all the tasks Harry gave him with vigor, but felt listless and miserable at the end of the day. He put all his energy into file organization and coffee brewing, and by the time he entered his flat, he felt hollow inside. That fiery determination he had four years ago had begun to wane. How could he make his own fortune if the only fortune worth making was something so absolutely impossible?

He didn’t know how or when everything had become like this. When had he gotten so starry-eyed? It felt as if his heart had slowly been getting fuller and heavier and the pressure in his chest tighter and tighter until he had finally begun to choke. Now there was no way to breathe.

It was Draco’s own imagination that had led him on. His own fault once again that he was left so confused.

Maybe he had begun spinning his own demise in March when he found out that Harry had finally broken up with Ginny.

“I broke up with Ginny today,” Harry said abruptly as soon as Draco brought in the coffee.

“Why?” Draco blurted…the only word and question that had immediately fallen on his lips.

“Because I wasn’t in love with her.” He tapped his fingers on the end of the cup. “Remember what you said last Christmas?”

“Yes.” Draco’s cheeks felt hot. Were they burning? He had pretended to forget all those things had been said.

“And then I started thinking about whether or not I’d ever felt like that around her. I couldn’t think of one time. Maybe back at school, but I can’t really remember.”

“Addled memory perhaps,” Draco murmured.

“Maybe. But I realized that the only time I’d felt anything close to that kind of passion is when I was flying. Ginny just never challenged me the way Quidditch did or the way the war did. The way you do now.”

Draco stared at Harry and cleared his throat, suddenly uncomfortable. His cheeks really were burning. Was it hot in here? “Redheads weren’t as feisty as you thought?”

“I’ve just grown up.” Harry said as he set his cup down, meeting Draco’s stare. “And maybe its time that I do what isn’t expected of me.”

“Nobody’s stopping you,” Draco murmured.

Then Harry gave him one of those open, off-the-cuff smiles and went back to his work.

Since then, Draco had always looked at Harry differently. He thought about the nature of what he considered their friendship. Harry had been right: they did challenge each other. They demanded things from of each other that no one else would ever expect of them. Harry demanded that Draco actually participate in life. Demanded that Draco reclaim the things he believed he no longer deserved.

“What do you do after work?” Harry had asked one day.

“Go home,” Draco had shrugged, taking his favorite seat in Harry’s office, the dark green armchair with the curved back.

“Well, then what do you do at home?”

Draco chewed his lip. He went home and he dreamed. Wrote letters of things that never were to his dead mother. Stared out the window and pondered the what-ifs in his life. Wondered what he would do next. Finally, he would eat and then curl up to sleep. Sometimes he would go buy things for his shabby flat whenever his paycheck came and spend hours admiring the improvements.

“What everyone else does, I suppose,” he had ended up saying. Because his personal life was drier than a flobberworm’s. “What do you do?”

“I don’t go home. I mean, do you ever go out to the pubs with friends?”

“I don’t have friends.”

“You haven’t tried to make any?” Harry had been honestly surprised.

“Not much point in trying, is there?” Draco smiled sardonically. “Waste of time.”

“You tried with me,” Harry had replied.

And Draco remembered the purpose in trying. Remembered why he came back into the Wizarding World in the first place: to rebuild his esteem and rewrite his reputation. So he had stopped dreaming and started doing.

He had made friends with some of the other secretaries at first. There were some young witches in the department that made for easy company. Then a young wizard in Accounting that made for nicer company.

Harry had not liked that particular man, but Draco thought it was good to have other people to talk to, people who could say to others that Draco Malfoy had turned into quite a respectable young man. Someone who could be pleasant company.

Draco, for his part, demanded that Harry be selfish. Do what he wanted. Live the life he wanted to live, not the one everyone else imagined he should be living.

“Why did you decide to become an Auror?” Draco asked after Harry had come in one day seething about the Ministry.

Harry had blinked with surprise. “I’m good at it?”

“You’re good at a lot of things.”

“Everyone said that it would be a good fit for me.”

“Do you like it?” Draco always wondered if people really liked what they were doing.

“Sometimes. Other times, I don’t really want to do anything. Just stop doing things and go out and explore the world.” Harry had looked wistful. Draco could imagine beach breezes wafting against Harry’s face.

“So why don’t you?”

“Because people just can’t do that. They don’t just leave everything behind just because they want to.”

“You could.”

Harry had taken two weeks leave and gone to Italy for a vacation. Draco had missed him, but was secretly thrilled when Harry had come back bright-eyed and enraptured by his own self-made adventures.

Harry shouldn’t have taken off his shirt in front of Draco that day. He had come back and was gushing about the Piazza del Popolo and the Trevi Fountain as he changed into his Auror uniform. Draco’s mouth had gone slightly dry as he stared at the tanned golden skin and taut muscles. He'd wondered what it would feel like to brush his fingers against the smooth, flat planes of Harry’s chest, and the thought had made his toes curl with delight.

He hadn’t been able to stop staring ever since. He began to wonder and dream about impossible things once again. The potential of something more than friendship with Harry, because wouldn’t they be great together? And as the pieces clicked together in Draco’s head about how much better his life was now that Harry was in it, and how he had never felt so good in his entire life…he realized that he had fallen head over heels for the man. And it wasn’t just because he looked downright gorgeous without a shirt on.

The smiles Harry shot him suddenly seemed flirtatious. The stares Harry sometimes gave made Draco feel undressed and tingling with anticipation.

“Want to go out to the pubs with me later?” turned into a salacious bedroom invitation in Draco’s mind.

He always refused shakily, not sure he could be around Harry if he was even the slightest bit intoxicated. He felt tipsy just being in Harry’s presence.

Oh, but if he couldn’t have, surely he could dream? Only when he was back in his flat did reality set in and he could shake off the delusions.

Draco had always been the sort of boy who knew what he wanted, and had gotten what he wanted: the newest racing broom, chocolate biscuits for dessert, brand new robes, and even people, wherever and whenever he wanted them. But there was no challenge in snapping his fingers and just knowing that whatever he wished for would appear in front of him.

Harry wasn’t simply something or someone Draco could snap his fingers and demand. Harry was a challenge. Harry had always been a challenge…an impossible one Draco had never been able to conquer.

He was so tired of longing. He should have accepted Harry for his friendship. But he couldn’t. He wanted so much more.

Today, Harry had been wrapping presents in his office all day. Draco surreptitiously finished Harry’s paperwork for him.

“I have to go the Burrow later,” Harry explained. He fidgeted in his eat and started ripping little scraps of wrapping paper apart nervously. “I’ve gone every year.”

“You don’t need to explain.”

“It’s just, do you think it’ll be weird this year? Because of…you know…”

Draco raised his eyebrows, “No, I don’t really know.” He did, but did he have to hear about this? Some part of him saluted Ginny Weasley now that Harry had dumped her, but another part of him despised her for her stupidity at letting the best thing in the world that could happen to anyone slip away without a fight.

“Because of Ginny.”

Draco reminded himself not to roll his eyes. “Well, they’ve all had quite some time to get over it.” Even though Draco thought that there would never be enough time in the world to get over Harry.

“I guess.” Harry sighed and looked at his handiwork. Dozens of boxes in all shapes and sizes littered his office.

“Bloody hell, how many Weasley’s are there now?”

Harry laughed, “Quite a lot. You can’t even begin to imagine how many sweaters, quidditch books, candy, and Weasley Wheezes I’m going to get.”

“Between the lot of them you’d think they’d have more imagination.”

Harry just smiled, “Well there’s not many things that I want, so most people stick with the old standby’s. There’s really only one thing I want this year anyway.”

“And what’s that?”

Harry’s eyes twinkled, “Guess.”

During his afternoon break, Draco decided to give up his chances at getting lunch and headed for Diagon Alley. He wasn’t sure exactly what it was that Harry wanted, but he liked to think that he had an ounce or two of more creativity than the Weasley’s.

Through the window of a souvenir shop boasting of Muggle wares, he saw a miniature replica of a beautifully, intricate fountain. He pressed his nose up against the glass and marveled at the detailed carving. The Trevi Fountain. The little fountain was made of marble and the robes of the gods and goddesses were charmed to flutter. The miniature version had a small pond of water big enough for one or two coins. Whoever tosses a coin into the fountain will always return to Rome.

The price was his month’s paycheck.

Harry would be worth it. Even if Harry couldn’t give him what he wanted, he could still give Harry something. Maybe he could offer Harry a promise that one day he could go back to Rome. Remind him of the opportunity to travel. Remind him to keep doing what he wanted, even if what he wanted wasn’t Draco.

He came back from his break, cheeks flushed not just from the blustering wind but with excitement. Draco waited until Harry was about to leave. He had kept the pretty package in his drawers. Every few minutes, he kept reaching in the drawer to make sure it was still there.

Harry went to put on his jacket and he grinned at Draco, eyes shining in that damn lamplight. The Ministry was quiet now and no one was scurrying past the doors. Draco clutched at his box.

Draco stood up. “Happy Christmas, Harry.”

Harry grinned, “Look, I have some time before I head to the Burrow, do you want to…”

Except, there was an unexpected knock from the door. Someone unexpected and unwanted.

“Ginny!” Harry opened the door, startled.

“Harry,” Ginny said, eyes bright. “How are you?”

“Good, um…heading over to the Burrow in a bit. What are you doing here?”

“Thought I’d just stop by. I’d come to find Ron, but he’s left already. Since I hadn’t seen you in a while…well. Maybe we can go to the Burrow together?”

Harry looked hesitant. “Actually I was about to…”

“Please? I know we had a falling out, but since it’s Christmas.” Ginny reached for Harry’s arm.

Draco’s eyes went back and forth between them. It was like watching a Quidditch match and knowing that something awful was about to happen to someone.

“I…alright. I guess,” Harry glanced over at Draco and shrugged apologetically.

Ginny clapped her hands together, “Mum will be so happy when we walk in together you know…”

And Draco’s mind whirled as he imagined Harry getting back together with Ginny. Maybe it was his own jealousy gnawing away at his rationality, but he pictured them walking together towards the house as the snow fell down, the flakes getting stuck in her eyelashes. He’d lean forward to brush them off. Their eyes meeting across the table in the Weasley hovel. Hands brushing as they exchanged presents. Getting caught under the mistletoe and everyone’s exclamations of ‘since it’s Christmas.’

He wouldn’t and couldn’t stand it if she started coming by to Harry’s office all the time for her visits. Hearing her giggle echo in the office. Watching her bring his Harry her coffee. The tingling that had been itching beneath his skin now burned him so hot it hurt. It was scorching, yet he felt numb all over.

“Have a happy Christmas, Draco,” Harry said as he left. The door clicked quietly behind him.

Draco stared at the wall, hands clenched tightly. There was something he needed to do before he left.

On Christmas Eve, Draco turned in his two weeks notice on his way out.

He threw the fountain against the Ministry building. Not everyone can have what they want.

--

The fifth Christmas after the war, Harry Potter found Draco Malfoy in a grimy flat in Rome. There had been no patient knocking but rather forceful pounding that threatened to take down the entire door.

Draco had left London. He could renew his life elsewhere. Slowly re-earn his accustomed luxuries. Reach for the things he was used to so he could stop thinking about all the better things he wanted and couldn’t have. He hadn’t expected Harry to come find him. Then again, Harry had never done anything expected when it came to Draco.

“Why are you here?” Draco gasped.

“Why did you quit?” There was a dangerous glint in Harry’s eyes that Draco had only seen during Quidditch matches.

“It was for the best.”

“Best for who?”

“For both of us…”

But Harry was unrelenting. “Both of us? For you maybe. Did you get tired of pushing papers all the time and just quit? All that talk about how people should try to be selfish for once and thought you’d take your own advice even though you’ve been selfish your whole life?”

“Why do you care?”

“Because. Because it was stupid in that office without you. I couldn’t go to work everyday without knowing that you’d be there. There wasn’t any point. There had never been any point until you showed up.”

Draco couldn’t move. Couldn’t breathe. That all sounded so familiar…

“Why did it take you so long to find me, then? It’s been a year.” Except to Draco, he felt like it had been yesterday that he’d shoved the yellow notice in Harry’s face and muttered that things hadn’t worked out the way he had hoped.

Harry breathed out through his nose. “Because I wasn’t sure if you wanted to be found. After all, you had just…left. It was so sudden.” He raked his fingers through his hair, looking guilty. “I should have found you earlier. I know I should have. I’ve needed to see you since the moment you left.”

“So why didn’t you?” Draco demanded, suddenly angry. Why was Harry here? What was he trying to say? Why was he trying to say all of this now? When Draco already hurt every day because he couldn’t forget about Harry? Why was Harry rubbing his presence in Draco’s face?

“I…you’re the one who left! You’re the one who walked out first. You’re the one who didn’t even give me a chance…but now since it’s Christmas...”

“I don’t understand.” Draco still couldn’t breathe. “A chance at what?”

“At you. And don’t ask me why. It’s because you’re funny. You actually listen to me. You tell me to do things that I want to do. You pushed me. You’ve always pushed me and it was boring without you before you came and it’s boring without you now.”

“I can’t always be around to make your life more exciting.” Were his hands shaking? They shouldn’t shake.

“But…” Harry looked wildly desperate. “I wouldn’t mind always being around for you.”

Then Harry kissed him.

And Draco let himself fall completely and utterly, because this time he knew that at least Harry would be there to catch him.

--

This Christmas finds Draco Malfoy cozy in bed next to Harry Potter, his toes curled around the warm sheets, his feet tucked in neatly under Harry’s body. Maybe this was not the lot the world had intended for him, but this was the lot that he would have intended for himself. This was an existence that he was sure was worth surviving for. And his life had not been worth living without this man beside him. He was sure he had made some wrong choices this time, too, but fate had served him better this time around.

His finger trembled as it traced the pale, pink scar, following the unusual zig-zagged pattern. Draco let out the breath he’d been holding, blowing wisps of blond hair away from his face. Propped up on his elbows, he stared down at Harry’s sleeping form, whose eyelids fluttered every twenty seconds and whose mouth was partly open, sounding off quiet whistling breaths of air.

Only just an hour ago, Harry had been very much awake, twisting and writhing beneath him in squirms of pleasure as he kissed a feathery trail of kisses from Harry’s collarbone to his abdomen and down further. Harry had arched his back, and wrapped his fingers in Draco’s hair, crying out when Draco started taking Harry into his mouth. Harry’s face had been one of determination and ecstasy when Draco gave up all control and let Harry have him in a fit of thrusts and moans.

“I love you,” murmured Draco.

For Draco, it had seemed as if the final puzzle piece of his life had fallen into place, that perhaps whatever that he had been waiting for all of his life was now in his hands. In the morning, he would make Harry another perfect cup of coffee. Something he knew he could always do for Harry. But now. Now this was perfect enough.
 
 
 
Forestforesteyes on December 18th, 2007 11:41 pm (UTC)
Wow. This was wonderful- it's practically left me breathless. I love it.
Rcrimson_stained on January 7th, 2008 12:29 am (UTC)
:) yay! thank you so much!
misterwalnut on December 18th, 2007 11:53 pm (UTC)
This fic was so heartwarming.

...and, yeah, every time I read the title, I could only think of this song.
Rcrimson_stained on January 7th, 2008 12:30 am (UTC)
haha i definitely had some christmas music on in the background while i was deciding on the title ;)
rickey_a: H/D Kissrickey_a on December 19th, 2007 12:08 am (UTC)
oh sigh
this was lovely, romantic and quite the feel good holiday fic
Rcrimson_stained on January 7th, 2008 12:32 am (UTC)
thank you! :) i love holiday fic and i figured now was a better time than any to write something christmassy!
tiger_iristiger_iris on December 19th, 2007 12:11 am (UTC)
I loved the dreamy quality of this fic and how you used Christmas as a leitmotiv for the slow building of their relationship. I found it very interesting to see Draco's devotion to Harry's comfort: it was quite unusual but you succeeded in convincing me that it made sense. He was so eager to please, to be useful; I was so sorry for him during the "fountain" episode!

A very satisfying read! Thank you.
Rcrimson_stained on January 7th, 2008 12:33 am (UTC)
aww thanks :)
prettyhairs on December 19th, 2007 12:12 am (UTC)
when Draco quit? That broke my heart. Especially how he smashed the miniature of the Trevi fountain.

Wonderful Christams story:)
Rcrimson_stained on January 7th, 2008 12:34 am (UTC)
thank you! haha draco always has to have dramatic flair exiting too ;)
agirlnamedmija on December 19th, 2007 12:32 am (UTC)
Absolutely beautiful. Wow.
Rcrimson_stained on January 7th, 2008 12:34 am (UTC)
thanks!
Tiny S.O.B.: lunaruffians on December 19th, 2007 02:32 am (UTC)
ugh, you made me cry! this was fantastic.
Rcrimson_stained on January 7th, 2008 12:34 am (UTC)
:) thanks! though i am sorry about making you cry <3
wigglynoodle: Harry smilewigglynoodle on December 19th, 2007 02:33 am (UTC)
AH! THANK YOU, Secret Santa! I loved umbrellas being called "black flappy things," and Draco describing his life as "drier than a flobberworm's." (I love the word flappy. XD And Harry going to Italy? Made me starry-eyed. ♥ ♥ ♥

I really like how you separate the story into sections. It was enjoyable to see the years progress that way, and to learn that Draco's life gets better in the end. HEE mwuahahahaha, almost forgot - I love the criticism of the fancy coffee names. :DD (And that fact that it was Ginny who brought them.)

Thaaaank yooooou
(Anonymous) on December 21st, 2007 06:42 am (UTC)
:) yay i'm really glad you liked it!!! and yes the word flappy is a good one. (i could always just picture draco mentally describing simple 'muggle' things incomprehensibly to himself :) have a happy christmas!
(no subject) - crimson_stained on January 7th, 2008 01:34 am (UTC) (Expand)
Jo: Squeeanimeartistjo on December 19th, 2007 03:15 am (UTC)
Eee! I love how Draco and Harry's relationship develops--friends first and then revelation about the potential for something more dawning! <333

My only disappointment that Draco didn't ask about Ginny when Harry showed up the Rome flat. After all, he left because Harry seemed to be willing get back together with her that Christmas, didn't he? Maybe a wee snippet to clear up that mystery? ;D
Rcrimson_stained on January 7th, 2008 01:35 am (UTC)
:D thanks! haha and good point. maybe one day a drabble to supplement? ;)
(no subject) - animeartistjo on January 7th, 2008 08:17 pm (UTC) (Expand)
sri-licious: harry/dracopikkalam_sri on December 19th, 2007 03:18 am (UTC)
Mmmm, perfect fic to curl up with on a winter day. Warms the heart.
Rcrimson_stained on January 7th, 2008 01:35 am (UTC)
thank you so much! :)
(Deleted comment)
Rcrimson_stained on January 7th, 2008 01:36 am (UTC)
haha yay thank you! i love christmas fic...i have a holiday tradition to read some of my faves on Christmas eve after the relatives have gone :D
secretsolitairesecretsolitaire on December 19th, 2007 03:46 am (UTC)
Aw, this was lovely. Very warm and Christmas-y and romantic. :-)
Rcrimson_stained on January 7th, 2008 01:36 am (UTC)
thank you!!! :)
SFirresistableplx on December 19th, 2007 04:33 am (UTC)
your fic is just like a warm cup of chocolate in a cold christmas night.

Loved the way you narrated it year by year, your giftee is terribly lucky
Rcrimson_stained on January 7th, 2008 01:36 am (UTC)
awww thank you so much. haha perhaps draco should have been making hot chocolate instead.
mahaliemmahaliem on December 19th, 2007 04:42 am (UTC)
Lovely!
Rcrimson_stained on January 7th, 2008 01:36 am (UTC)
thanks!
Lady Agnewladyagnew on December 19th, 2007 05:14 am (UTC)
Christmas fic! yay! I love that Draco eventually gets what he wants, even though he (and Harry) are so boneheaded and stubborn, refusing to see what's right in front of their eyes. It's such a sweet tale, I got a cavity reading it.
Rcrimson_stained on January 7th, 2008 01:37 am (UTC)
haha thank you :D haha i couldn't leave the boys without a happy christmas!