Written in December 2006.
The Perfect Present
Harry shifted in his sleep.
"Harry, wake up."
"Mmph," Harry finally said, rolling around and burying his face in his pillow. It was too early. He needed his precious sleep, and no one, not even Draco Malfoy was going to take that away from him.
Wait a moment — Draco Malfoy?
Harry jolted up into a sitting a position. Unfortunately, his sudden, unexpected movement caused his head to collide most painfully with a nose.
"Ow!" howled the voice that had woken Harry up. Draco's voice.
Harry blinked blearily as he processed the image of Draco lying sprawled on the bed beside him, rubbing his nose and glaring up at Harry. Then —
Draco glowered. "You're vicious in the morning, Potter," he said sulkily, wincing as he gingerly touched the bridge of his nose. "Am I bleeding profusely?"
Harry laughed — his way of saying "no". Without bothering to untangle his limbs from the sheets, he inched over to Draco and said, with only the slightest hint of concern in his voice, "Are you all right?"
"If you count having a broken nose as being 'all right', then yes, I'm simply superb." Draco rolled his eyes. "Otherwise, no, I'm really not."
"Stop being such a sissy," Harry said somewhat exasperatedly, nudging Draco's hand away so that he could examine the supposedly broken nose. "Your nose is perfectly fine, by the way."
"Well, this is a right fine way to start off our first Christmas together," Draco said sarcastically, swatting at Harry's hand. "Now I'm physically and mentally wounded. If these are the repercussions that come along with waking up next to the Chosen One, I don't think —"
"Shut up," Harry interrupted, leaning forward with a slight smile.
Draco frowned severely. "Not until you apologise, you wanker."
Harry kissed him.
"Okay," Draco said rather faintly when Harry pulled away. "I suppose that works. For now."
"Just for now?" A mischievous glint chased away the remaining wisps of sleep in Harry's eyes. "What do I need to do for you to forgive me permanently, then?"
For the moment, Draco decided to feign innocence. "Well, first of all, what the hell were you so surprised for?"
Harry looked disappointed. "I dunno," he answered truthfully. "I guess it's because I'm still getting used to hearing your voice first thing in the morning."
"What's wrong with my voice?" Draco muttered morosely.
"Nothing," said Harry, smiling. He rested a hand on one of Draco's sheet-covered knees. "Nothing at all."
"Don't do that."
Draco hesitated. "Smile."
Harry frowned. "Why not?"
A smile twitched at the corners of Draco's lips. "Because it makes you look cute."
Harry couldn't help it — he blushed. Even though it had been almost a year since the war ended and they got together, the rare compliments Draco paid him still set his nerves aflutter. Indeed, everything Draco said and did sent Harry into a most undignified state of light-headedness and incoherency. Harry, of course, would never reveal this to Draco, mostly because he knew he would never hear the end of Draco's teasing if he did.
"Anyway," Harry said, clearing his throat and gathering his composure, "if you and your nose are fully functioning again, we should get going."
"Where to?" Draco asked. He grabbed Harry's wrist as Harry made to get up. "And you're not going anywhere, Potter. Not until you make up for damaging my precious face."
Harry sat back down. He grinned inwardly. It worked every time.
Draco, however, had a scheming glint in his eye. "Now, where is it we're going?" he asked, reaching around Harry's waist from behind and pulling him closer. Bringing his lips right up to Harry's ear, he murmured, "Don't tell me we have to get out of bed already."
Harry swallowed thickly. "Err…" he managed to get out before Draco's fingers trailing down his bare chest silenced him.
"So, like I said, it's Christmas," Draco purred. His lips brushed teasingly against Harry's earlobe as he spoke, sending a round of shivers up Harry's spine. "Where's my present, Potter?"
"Um…" Harry stammered. Damn him, he thought, making a silent vow to get Draco back someday. For the moment, though, he was powerless to do anything but mumble unintelligibly. Besides, revenge and everything along the lines of revenge always came second to Draco. Especially when Draco was doing that to him there…
"Don't tell me you didn't buy me anything," Draco murmured, a pout in his voice. He rested his chin in the crook of Harry's neck and began playing with Harry's unruly tresses. "And here I was, expecting something extravagant… You really don't know how to please a man…"
Deciding that the time to put Draco back into his rightful place had long passed, Harry tried to turn around and face him. Unfortunately, Draco chose that moment to slide his hand down Harry's chest and — oh.
Draco smirked against Harry's neck as he began doing all sorts of wicked things to Harry under the sheets. "You, on the other hand, are quite easy to please."
"Just you," Harry mumbled, his eyes fluttering closed as Draco's hand continued its mischief. "Too — ahh — early…"
"Too early? I suppose that means we'll have to wait until later, then."
And then, much to Harry's outrage, Draco suddenly removed his hand and scooted backwards. The loss of support nearly caused Harry to fall over, but he saved himself in the nick of time by splaying his palms against the mattress.
"I hate you!" he exclaimed indignantly, tugging the covers away from Draco and gathering them around himself. The fact that he was trembling all over and secretly considering the advantages of using the Imperius Curse in such a situation, unfortunately, begged to differ.
Draco seemed to be aware of this. Smiling smugly, he leaned back on his elbows and said loftily, "Serves you right."
"I hope that wasn't your Christmas present to me," Harry grumbled, shooting Draco what he hoped was his most withering glare, "because if it was, it was a hell of a shoddy gift, and I demand something better."
"Having me here should be enough," Draco replied, pretending to look wounded. "Really, you need to brush up on your flattery skills, Potter."
"Don't call me that," Harry said, annoyed. Draco only called him by his surname when he wanted to… well, annoy him.
"What're you going to do about it, Potter?" Draco smirked again, and Harry had to exercise all of his self-control to keep from grabbing the other boy and shagging him right then and there. How could he have ever thought that smirk was unappealing?
Harry sighed. "In any case," he said in a strangled voice, "it's time we got going, because —"
At that moment, he was interrupted by the downstairs doorbell.
Draco sat up in alarm. "What the hell was that?"
"The doorbell, Draco," Harry replied, rolling his eyes. "You know, the one that rings every time someone steps up to our door?"
"Very witty, Harry," Draco said sarcastically. The doorbell rang again, and he instinctively jerked the covers up to his chest. "But what kind of idiot visits people on Christmas morning?"
"That's what I've been trying to tell you," Harry explained impatiently as he slid out from under the covers and began searching the room for his clothes. "We're going out to breakfast with Ron and Hermione, remember?"
"We are?!" There was definite alarm — and possibly disgust — on Draco's face now. "You're joking, right?"
"Not really," Harry said, shrugging casually. He found a pair of crumpled jeans lying on the floor and tugged them on. "Besides, I told you about it ages in advance. I always spend my Christmases with Ron and Hermione."
"Not while you're with me, you don't!" Draco's eyes followed Harry's movements back and forth across the room as he added in a panicked tone, "In any case, why am I going?"
Harry raised his eyebrows. "Well, you're free to spend Christmas with your mates if you want to. I'm not going to stop you."
"Fine, I will."
Harry halted abruptly and turned to glare at Draco. "That's not what you're supposed to say!"
Another two consecutive rings of the doorbell followed by the faint sound of Ron yelling Harry's name cut off Draco's reply. Draco scowled deeply at Harry and folded his arms resolutely. "I'm not going. And you aren't either."
Pausing with his shirt half-way on, Harry said in a voice of forced calm, "You're coming whether you like it or not." Despite all of Draco's good points (and there were quite a few of them), his dislike of Ron and Hermione never failed to exasperate Harry.
I should've bought him a new personality for Christmas, Harry thought sullenly, as he struggled to pull the neck of the t-shirt over his head.
"Potter, I never make you come along with me when I —"
"That's because you know they'd curse me the moment I stepped into sight," Harry pointed out. He finally managed to get his shirt on and walked over to the door. "Ron and Hermione, on the other hand, might think about cursing you, but at least they don't actually go through with it. Now get dressed, unless you want them to walk in on you naked."
"I don't want them to walk in on me at all," Draco muttered. He groaned and ran a hand through his hair in a most endearing manner; Harry briefly wondered if meeting Ron and Hermione was really necessary after all. They had each other, so they probably wouldn't miss Harry too much if he just stayed in bed with Draco for the rest of the day… Ron would certainly be relieved about Draco's absence, at least…
Luckily, another series of urgent rings chased this irresponsible thought out of Harry's head before he could begin to seriously consider it. Ignoring Draco's grumbling, he left the room.
Harry descended the stairs two at a time and reached the front door in record time. Slightly short of breath, he jerked it open.
Ron and Hermione were standing on the porch. Both of them looked very cold, and when Harry didn't immediately invite them inside, Ron cleared his throat pointedly.
"Oh, right," Harry said hastily, opening the door wider and stepping back to let them in.
Hermione smiled brightly at Harry as she strode past him. "Happy Christmas, Harry. I hope we're not interrupting anything."
Harry turned a fetching shade of red, and Ron choked on his own spittle. "She — you — we'd better not be interrupting anything!" he spluttered, his gaze swerving over to Harry.
"No, nothing," Harry said, turning redder still. Hermione smiled knowingly.
"Anyway," Ron said loudly, his tone making it clear that it would be better if they pretended that Hermione had never said anything, "where's Malfoy?"
"Upstairs. He's still sleeping." At that moment, a muffled thud came from their bedroom. Harry hastened to correct himself. "Er… it looks like he's up now."
Hermione nodded. "Can we sit down?" she asked, peering into Harry and Draco's untidy living room. Her eyes widened in alarm. "What happened in here?"
"Um…" Harry played with the worn hem of his shirt uncomfortably. "Well, I'm sort of at the Ministry all day, and Draco doesn't care about things being tidy, so…"
"Is that so?" Hermione said, wrinkling her nose. She followed Harry as he led the way over to the sofa, which was strewn with unwashed clothes, empty firewhiskey bottles, and the occasional stained cushion. "I never would have expected —"
"Harry, it's a pigsty in here!" Ron interrupted from behind them. He surveyed his surroundings with an expression of astonishment. "Doesn't Malfoy ever do anything useful?"
"It's not his fault," Harry said, quickly jumping to Draco's defence as Hermione chided Ron for being inconsiderate. "He's got his own job, so he doesn't have much time to clean either. And I'd rather Dobby — he's helping us out now — just stay to cooking; I'd lose all my socks if he started cleaning. Besides," he added with a grin, "it's not like you're very neat either, Ron."
"I have Hermione for that," Ron said, shrugging as he gingerly picked up a pair of pyjama pants lying on the sofa by the drawstrings and tossed them away with an aghast look.
Hermione bristled. "I don't exist to fulfil your housekeeping needs, Ron Weasley!"
"Well, that's what girls are for," Ron said offhandedly. "Isn't that right, Harry?"
"Mmm," Harry said absently. He was too preoccupied with wondering what Draco was doing (a favourite pastime of his) to pay much attention to Ron's words or Hermione's ensuing indignant response.
"Anyway," Ron said, once he and Hermione, who was glaring at him in a very irritated manner, had settled down amidst the rubbish littering Harry's sofa, "it's a shame you don't have one around."
"Hmm?" Harry blinked. "Have one of what around?"
Harry suppressed a snort of laughter. "Yeah, well, Draco is better."
The tips of Ron's ears turned scarlet. He seemed to be torn between disbelief, revulsion, and bewilderment. Luckily, Hermione saved him from the trouble of having to answer.
"Harry, are you sure you're okay, living with Malfoy on your own?" There was a hint of worry in her voice.
Harry felt a fleeting twinge of annoyance. "I'm fine," he said. "You two are living by yourselves, so why shouldn't I? I'm nineteen — the same age as you."
"Yes, but…" Hermione's voice trailed off as she tried to think of a suitable way to phrase her concerns. "Well, I know you love him" (Ron made a guttural noise of disgust), "but it's still Malfoy. He isn't very… responsible."
"It's been a year now," Harry said, shrugging his shoulders, "and nothing bad has come out of it. He's a good person, Hermione; really."
Hermione smiled. "If you say so, I believe it."
At that moment, a yell from upstairs interrupted their conversation.
"HARRY, YOU'RE WEARING MY SHIRT!"
Hermione's eyebrows skyrocketed up to her hairline. Harry turned bright red for the second time that morning. Before he could attempt to explain, however, footsteps came thundering down the stairs and a few seconds later, a shirtless Draco appeared in the doorway. His mouth was open, as if he were set to yell at Harry some more, but he shut it promptly at the sight of Ron and Hermione sitting on the sofa.
At least, Harry thought, Draco had the decency to look embarrassed. He even managed a guilty "Um…" as his gaze shifted from Harry to Ron and Hermione to Harry again.
"Your fault," Harry mumbled. He stared fixedly at the floor, avoiding the amused look Hermione gave him. "Er… yeah. You should probably — uh, get dressed…"
Draco had gathered his composure much more quickly than Harry. "Potter, I need you upstairs," he said emphatically, ignoring Harry's friends. "As in, now."
"You can find a shirt on your own," Harry muttered, shuffling his feet.
"Not when you're wearing the one I want."
"You have more shirts than Bertie Botts has beans!" Harry cried, but his ill-behaved feet were already moving towards Draco of their own accord.
"Go ahead, Harry," Hermione said cheerfully. "We'll wait down here. Our reservations are at eleven, though, so do try to hurry."
"We will," Harry said through gritted teeth. The statement was more directed at Draco than anyone else. Draco smirked.
Harry and Draco left Ron and Hermione and returned to their bedroom. Once the door was safely shut behind them, Harry turned to Draco angrily.
"Why didn't you just find another shirt?" he demanded. He glanced down at the faded t-shirt he was wearing. "You don't even like this one!"
In response, Draco shoved Harry against the wall and kissed him roughly. "We don't have to go, Harry," he whispered into Harry's ear after he pulled away. "Tell them you'll pass… just this once…"
Harry fought to ignore the little voice in his head expressing its approval and support of Draco's idea. Shut up, you, he silently reprimanded it, trying to look at anything but Draco's inviting lips. This is a very serious situation!
"No," Harry said firmly, after a few seconds of silent debate with himself, out of which his rational side emerged victorious. He placed both palms against Draco's naked chest and pushed him away. "Put something on, Draco; Ron's going to be permanently traumatised if he has to see you shirtless again. We're leaving in a few minutes regardless of what you say."
Draco looked just as angry as Harry now. "Come off it, Potter. You can't be serious. You think they even want me there?"
Sighing, Harry said, "We've already gone over this. They're going to accept you no matter what. Now hurry up. I'll buy you something expensive later."
"I can't be won over that easily by money," Draco shot back, but he adopted a resigned expression and began rummaging around in his drawer for something to wear.
A few minutes later Harry and Draco emerged from their room, both fully dressed and groomed, albeit not particularly in the best of spirits. Indeed, Draco was shooting Harry increasingly murderous looks every few seconds, all of which Harry deliberately ignored.
Hermione stood up when Harry and Draco re-entered the sitting room. "Shall we leave then?" she asked brightly. Whether she was oblivious to the tension between the three boys in the room or simply determined to ignore it was unclear.
"Right," Harry said tersely.
The group left the house and walked out into the frosty morning air. Harry looked up at the grey sky as he shut the door behind him. It looked like it was about to snow. He pointed this out. Hermione agreed, Draco glared at the ground, and Ron muttered something about his Christmas being ruined by Draco's presence.
"Leave him be, Ron," Harry said sharply in response to the latter comment. "Besides, you have to get used to him eventually.
"Believe me, I don't want to be here any more than you want me to be here, Weasley," Draco sneered, finally breaking his sulky silence. "I can think of a million better ways to spend Christmas than watching an oaf like you wolf down a plate of scrambled eggs."
"Shut up, Draco," Harry said flatly. He sighed. Perhaps this wasn't such a great idea after all.
Hermione seemed to read Harry's mind, because she began walking towards the front gate. "Let's go," she said firmly.
They Apparated over to the Apparation point behind the Leaky Cauldron. There, they passed through the magical archway into Diagon Alley.
"I hate you," Draco whispered into Harry's ear, as they trailed after Ron and Hermione down the bustling sidewalk. "We still have time to escape, you know."
"I don't plan on either of us escaping anywhere," Harry replied under his breath. "Unlike you, I enjoy spending time with them. And honestly, it'll only be for an hour or so. Once breakfast is over the rest of the day is ours to spend together."
Draco cocked his head at Harry's use of the word "together". Then, a smile slowly spread across his face. He seemed to be truly content for the first time that morning, and Harry couldn't help but smile too. Now he truly understood the meaning of "life's simple pleasures".
"Hurry up!" Ron called back to them, glaring over his shoulder at Harry and Draco. His eyes flicked down to their joined hands, and he grimaced noticeably. Harry steeled himself for the snide remark he knew was coming, but Hermione placed a firm hand on Ron's shoulder before he could say anything and shook her head slightly.
Harry felt a rush of gratitude towards Hermione. Even though she didn't trust Draco, she was still trying her best to lessen the discomfort for him. Note to self: use my own money to buy Hermione a present next year, he thought, reaching into his pocket and fingering his Christmas gift to her, which he had brought along with him, as they approached the little tea shop Hermione had made reservations at.
"Happy Christmas, sirs," squeaked what looked suspiciously like a house-elf decked in multicoloured garlands, as Harry and Draco followed Hermione and Ron into the store. Harry briefly wondered what Hermione thought of this indignity; he had been too busy staring at Draco to catch her reaction. It was Draco's fault, really, for being so damned… well, easy to stare at.
Harry blinked and snapped out of his thoughts. "Yeah?" he said, turning to Hermione, who had addressed him.
"Malfoy's already sitting down." She laughed at Harry's surprised reaction. "Come on, it probably isn't a good idea to leave those two alone for too long."
Harry grinned sheepishly and nodded. "Thanks, by the way," he added in a low voice as they approached the table where Ron and Draco were sitting, both pointedly looking in opposite directions. "For… y'know."
"Of course," Hermione said kindly, patting Harry on the arm.
Breakfast was unsurprisingly awkward, but Harry was pleased to note that neither Ron nor Draco made any particularly damaging remarks. Indeed, both of them remained stubbornly silent throughout the meal, and only spoke when they were addressed by their respective dates.
Once the waitress had cleared away their plates, Draco made to stand up. Harry, however, had been expecting this, and immediately grabbed Draco's sleeve to prevent him from leaving. "We're not done," he said, raising an eyebrow.
Draco frowned, but sat down with a sigh. He had sat through the stupid affair and listened to Granger's incessant chatting; what more did Harry want from him?
Harry ignored Draco's obvious impatience. Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out two clumsily wrapped items and placed them on the table.
"Here," he said, smiling at Ron and Hermione. "Happy Christmas."
"Ooh, Harry, you shouldn't have!" Hermione squealed, her eyes lighting up. She hesitated. "Would it be all right if I opened it right now?"
Harry nodded. He looked quickly over at Ron, who was grinning, and breathed a sigh of relief.
"Thanks, Harry!" Ron said, eagerly tearing the flashing wrapping paper away from the object, which turned out to be a small, round bottle containing a gleaming gold liquid. He furrowed his eyebrows in confusion. "What is it?"
"That's Felix Felicis!" Hermione gasped, before Harry could answer. She lifted her gift — a bottle the same size as Ron's filled with a startling clear potion — up to the light. "Veritaserum? Oh, but Harry, how did you —?"
"Draco brewed them," Harry explained, smiling slightly. He slanted Draco a proud glance. "He's much better at Potions than I am, so I asked him to make these for me." He saw Ron start at this bit of information, and hastened to add, "Don't worry, they're not poisoned or anything."
Hermione beamed at Draco, who shrunk away, looking alarmed. "Thank you, Malfoy!" she said breathlessly.
Amused, Harry watched as Draco quickly masked the surprise in his eyes with indifference. "I only did it because Harry asked me to."
Harry turned to Ron anxiously. He was staring down at the little bottle of liquid luck, wonder and confusion written across his face. "I —" he started to say, but Draco cut him off.
"Save it, Weasley," Draco drawled. "As entertaining as it is to watch you struggle with yourself, your gratitude doesn't mean anything to me."
"Draco," Harry said warningly.
Before Ron could devise a snappy retort, Hermione spoke up. "Oh, hold on, I have presents for the both of you."
"Hermione, you really didn't need to —"
Hermione waved Harry's protest away airily. She reached into a large shopping bag Harry hadn't noticed she'd been carrying and pulled out a neatly wrapped box. "Here you are," she said, presenting it to Harry.
"Is it a book?" Harry asked warily.
She shook her head and smiled secretively. "Go on, open it."
Harry did so, and was surprised and nonplussed to find two folded ties, one decorated with red and gold stripes and the other, green and silver. "Er?"
"They're matching ties," Hermione said eagerly. "They're the colours of your houses. This red one is yours, and the green one is Malfoy's. I thought it'd be cute, especially since they're Christmas colours."
Draco made a noise like he was being strangled. "Granger, you've got to be fucking —"
"They're great, Hermione," Harry said hurriedly. He fought the laugh bubbling up in his throat. "We're — er — supposed to wear them, right?"
Hermione clucked her tongue at Harry's feeble joke. "Of course, Harry. You're supposed to wear them together."
"Right," Harry said rather faintly, feeling his cheeks warm at the thought of doing something so… girly. He cleared his throat awkwardly, pretending he couldn't hear Draco's sniggers. "Thanks, Hermione."
"Here," Ron said gruffly, once Harry had tucked the ties safely away and made a silent vow to never look at them again. He held another parcel out to Harry, this one larger than Hermione's.
Harry took it and pulled away the wrapping paper. It was a box full of Harry's favourite Honeydukes sweets. He grinned. "Thanks, Ron!"
"Can we go now?" Draco asked, a hint of exasperation in his voice. He stared expectantly at Harry.
"Is it okay?" Harry asked Ron and Hermione, even though he was already pushing his chair back to get up.
Hermione nodded. "Thanks for coming, Harry." She hesitated, then added softly, "You too, Malfoy."
Draco seemed startled by the fact that Hermione had addressed him. Then, slowly, he nodded. "Yeah."
"Take good care of him," she added in a whisper while Harry was busy gathering his things. "He loves you a lot."
Draco ducked to hide the stupid smile that Hermione's words had brought about. As annoying as Granger was, he couldn't help but feel pleased that she trusted him with Harry.
"If you hurt him, Malfoy…"
Draco looked up and raised his eyebrows calmly. "Fortunately, I'm neither afraid of your wrath nor planning to hurt Harry in any way, Weasley."
Ron opened his mouth to retaliate, but at that moment, Harry interrupted their exchange by tugging at Draco's sleeve and saying, "C'mon, let's go."
Harry bid farewell to his friends, and then left the tea shop with Draco at his side. Once they were outside, Draco heaved a sigh of relief. "Thank Merlin that's over," he muttered, making a show of wiping his forehead.
"It wasn't that bad, Draco…"
"No, it wasn't. It was worse."
Shaking his head, Harry checked his watch. It was twelve thirty. They still had a good few hours left to wander around outside. "Where do you want to go?"
Draco shrugged. "Don't care."
"Don't tell me you did all that to get me out of there for no reason, you prat!"
"Shut up, Potter. Isn't not wanting to be in close proximity to Weasley and Granger reason enough?"
Harry rolled his eyes. "In any case, I still owe you a Christmas present, so tell me what you want."
"Oh." The single syllable was softer than a breath of air. "I wasn't being serious about that, Harry."
Harry smiled inwardly. "I am, though. You deserve something nice for putting up with Ron and Hermione. It probably wasn't easy for you."
"I was rather composed about it, wasn't I?" Draco gloated. "Can't say the same about Weasley, though…"
Harry decided to let this particular dig at Ron slide by. "So what'll it be?"
"Your present, you dolt."
"I said I wasn't —"
Harry silenced Draco by placing a finger to his lips. "I want to."
And that was that.
Five hours later, Harry and Draco were back in their sitting room, warming up by a cackling fire and watching their new cat playing with a spare sprig of mistletoe.
"Remind me again why the cat is here," Harry said placidly as he took a sip of butterbeer, enjoying the way the frothy liquid warmed his insides instantly.
Without looking up from the edition of the Daily Prophet he was perusing, Draco shrugged. "You said you'd buy me whatever I wanted."
"But I wasn't aware that 'anything you want' included live animals."
"Well, if you dislike it so much, why don't you send it back?"
"I thought the sales witch said it was a 'her'," Harry said, frowning.
"'Her', 'it' — it's all the same, really."
Harry swallowed another gulp of butterbeer. "You bought her, so shouldn't you be a bit more… I dunno, responsive?"
Draco finally put down his newspaper. "It's a cat, Potter. What the hell am I supposed to do with it?"
"You're the one who wanted it; you tell me," Harry shot back. He stared grumpily at the cat, which had moved onto unravelling one of his dirty socks. "I don't like cats all that much."
"Dog person?" Draco inquired. He smirked at Harry's surprised nod. "I figured."
"So why do you want her if you're not going to play with her?" Harry asked curiously. "I mean, aren't you at least going to name her?"
"I'll name it Harry."
Harry snorted. "That's not a name for a female cat."
"You're ridiculous, you know that?"
Without skipping a beat, Draco retorted, "Not nearly as ridiculous as those atrocious ties Granger gave you."
Harry snickered. "Us," he corrected. "They're for us."
Draco picked up the Daily Prophet again. "Whatever," he drawled as he flipped back to the page he had been reading. "The day I put one of those things on is the day I charm my hair ginger and change my surname to Weasley."
Harry laughed. "I don't know how I put up with you," he mused.
"It's because the sex is amazing." Harry choked on his swig of butterbeer, and Draco calmly arched an eyebrow over the newspaper at him. "It's true, isn't it?"
"Don't be too modest now," Harry replied sarcastically.
Draco tossed aside his newspaper again and reached over for Harry's mug of butterbeer. "Give me that."
Harry jerked the cup out of Draco's reach. "Sick of the alcohol?" he teased, gesturing at the two empty bottles of firewhiskey sitting on the coffee table.
"One doesn't get 'sick of the alcohol' until one is hopelessly pissed, Potter," Draco said disdainfully. "Thankfully, that never has and never will happen to me." He lunged for the butterbeer again, and ended up grabbing a fistful of Harry's shirt instead. "Come on, just one sip?"
Laughing, Harry placed the mug on the floor behind him. "Not until you earn it."
With a mock-serious glower, Draco got to his knees and moved forward so that he was kneeling in between Harry's legs. "Give it to me, or I'll never finish what I started this morning," he threatened.
Harry smiled serenely. "Not in front of Harriet, Draco."
"Oh, fuck the cat," Draco muttered, encircling Harry's neck with his arms and leaning forward to kiss him lightly.
Harry grabbed Draco's forearms and drew him closer, deepening the kiss. Draco made a small noise of approval as Harry took his lower lip between his teeth and sucked on it lightly. Tilting his head to the side, Draco parted his lips slightly, allowing Harry entrance into his mouth. Harry accepted and directed his attentions to exploring Draco's now-familiar mouth, while Draco pushed him back firmly against the arm of the sofa with the weight of his body with quiet moan.
Much to Harry's chagrin, they were suddenly interrupted by a yowl from the cat; it had gotten itself tangled up in the loose threads of Harry's sock. Draco broke away from Harry, looking thoroughly rumpled and mumbling something along the lines of "sodding beast wants to die".
"You shouldn't have gotten it if you didn't want it to bother you," Harry replied in a very "I told you so" tone as Draco went to disentangle the poor creature.
"Yeah, well, who knew cats could get so jealous?" Draco snarled in response. He picked the cat up by the scruff of its neck and glared at it sternly. "Go play elsewhere, Harriet."
The cat meowed very plaintively, but appeared to get the general message, because when Draco put it back on the floor, it scampered out of the room with the offending sock clamped tightly in its jaws. Draco made a face and returned to the sofa.
"You're so irresponsible," Harry said lightly, trying to tug Draco towards him again. Draco, however, resisted.
"You said I had to earn a sip, and I did," Draco whined. He crossed his arms. "I don't take kindly to people who break their promises, Potter."
"And I don't take kindly to people who use my surname when they have permission to use my first name," Harry retorted. "Well, at least in your case," he added on second thought.
Draco hmphed. "Go make dinner, Potter."
"Do it yourself."
"I can't cook, remember?"
Harry eyed Draco dubiously. "Well, can't you use magic or something?"
"No, Potter, I have better things to do than learn household charms. Cooking is a task fit for a house-elf." He shot Harry an accusing look. "Unfortunately, ours is presently absent due to your idiocy."
"Dobby's free to go wherever he pleases," Harry said defensively. "He said he didn't mind staying, but there's no way I'm going to make him work on Christmas!"
Draco shook his head in disbelief. "He's a house-elf. Working is what he's bloody supposed to do!"
Slouching down against the arm of the sofa, Harry said pleadingly, "Just come over here… please? I'll give you the butterbeer."
With an affected sigh, Draco moved over to Harry. "I'd rather have you," he murmured, placing his hands on Harry's shoulders.
Harry laughed and kissed Draco. Their arguments always ended this way. Or at least they had for the past year. The years before that — the pre-war years — Harry didn't like to think about. He didn't like to remember how he and Draco had stood on opposite sides of the battle, loathing each other because they had to, rivals in something much more serious than house-elf rights. When he realised that he loved Draco, Harry had decided to purge those old memories and start building new ones.
"Earth to Harry…" The feel of Draco's lips moving against the nape of his neck drew Harry out of his thoughts.
"Sorry," Harry said, sitting up straighter. He smiled when he noticed Draco's glittering grey eyes — eyes now void of the cold malice they had once possessed — watching him with concern. "I was thinking."
"How dare your mind wander to other subjects while I'm here?" Draco protested, pretending to look outraged. He grinned impishly. "Now you really do have to pay."
Harry cocked an eyebrow. "And how do you plan on carrying out that threat, Malfoy?"
Draco inclined his head as he studied Harry thoughtfully. "Well, those ties that Granger gave you —"
"— would be quite useful bondage tools, wouldn't they?"
Draco smirked. "I'm kidding. I can't even begin to imagine how scandalised Granger would be if she were to discover that I used her precious Christmas present to tie you up during sex."
Harry blushed deeply and mumbled, "This is sort of embarrassing."
"Poor, innocent Harry," Draco said silkily, entwining his fingers with Harry's. "Don't worry, I won't do anything that kinky to you. If you want, I could just shag you until it hurts instead."
Harry was sure his face would burst into flames. "That's a great thought to keep in mind," he muttered under his breath.
Draco couldn't help but laugh as he took in the sight of a thoroughly discomfited Harry. He felt an inner sense of pride knowing that only he knew exactly what to say to strip away the layers of confidence Harry wore in the face of the rest of the wizarding world. It was just further proof that Harry belonged to him, or perhaps that he belonged to Harry. Either way, it didn't really matter, because they still had each other in the end.
"So, Draco, where's my Christmas present?"
Draco immediately arranged his features into a haughty expression. "Don't tell me you still want something material after all!"
"Of course not," Harry said, grinning. "I just think that maybe I deserve something too after buying you a cat."
"I don't want it anymore," Draco said, wrinkling his nose. "Mother always said that cats were elegant creatures, but Harriet is a far cry from 'elegant'."
"Well, maybe you should just give her a chance," Harry suggested. He paused, and then added softly, "After all, first impressions can be deceiving."
Draco smiled knowingly. "I suppose I could allow her the opportunity to redeem herself. She's sleeping downstairs, though."
"Like hell she is. Don't tell me you were initially going to bring her into our bed…"
Draco blinked innocently. "Of course not. Even though she's probably far cuddlier than you are in the morning…"
Harry threw a cushion at Draco.
Later that evening found Harry and Draco in the sitting room again. They had left the house after Harry finished his butterbeer to grab a bite to eat, but had returned shortly afterwards upon finding all of the diners they knew of closed for Christmas. Draco had sulked over the idea of sleeping on an empty stomach at first, but had settled down after Harry reprimanded him for acting like a child and promised him they'd eat an extra nice breakfast the next morning to make up for it.
Now they were back in front of the warm fireplace, enjoying the kind of deep satisfaction that so often follows a long but rewarding day. Harry was sitting in his usual position with his back to the arm of the sofa, but this time his arms were wrapped loosely around Draco, who was settled snugly with his back against Harry's chest and a thick quilt over his legs.
"Harry…" Draco said softly, finally breaking the tranquil silence that had settled between them.
Harry lifted his chin from Draco's head lazily. "Hm?"
"Do you love me?"
Harry blinked in surprise, but not because of what Draco had said. On the contrary, he had grown accustomed to hearing those words. Ever since the two of them — without ever actually discussing it out loud — developed an unofficial system where they would alternate turns asking the question, it had become a sort of nightly ritual.
Thus, it wasn't the obvious question that surprised Harry. What really surprised him was the fact that Draco had broken the silent rule for the first time since it was established: even though it was hypothetically Harry's turn to ask, Draco was posing the question for the second night in a row.
"Yes, Draco," Harry said, quickly getting over his surprise at the unexpected turn of events, "I do."
"Mmhmm," Draco murmured. His eyelids drooped; for a moment, Harry thought he had fallen asleep. Then, he said drowsily, "Forever?"
Harry raised his eyebrows. Draco's persistence was also unforeseen. Usually the one who asked the question stopped once the other affirmed it.
"Yes," Harry promised anyway, and he meant it. "Forever. And maybe beyond that."
"Even if we fight?" Draco's eyes were definitely closed now, and sleep was starting to slur his voice. "We used to… fight a lot, you know… Will you love me even if we hate each other?"
Harry's arms around Draco tightened protectively. "That's all in the past. I can't hate you anymore."
Several minutes went by. Draco seemed to have drifted off to sleep, because his breathing had become deep and regular, and he didn't make a sound when Harry shifted beneath him.
Harry glanced at the clock sitting between the two bottles of firewhiskey Draco had consumed earlier. It was nearly midnight. Maybe I should bring him upstairs and into bed, Harry thought uncertainly, as he gazed down at Draco's sleeping face.
Harry nearly jumped, but he managed to stay still and not jostle Draco too much. "I thought you were asleep," he said accusingly.
"No, not yet." Draco exhaled softly. At that moment, he was anyone but the cold, distant person he projected in public. To Harry, he was just Draco — not Malfoy, or even Draco Malfoy, but Draco. The Draco Harry loved with all of his heart, soul, and being.
"In any case, it's late, so let's go to bed," Harry said, though he didn't make a move to get up.
Draco made a noise of protest. "I'd rather stay like this…"
Harry bit his lip. "Okay," he said quietly.
"Harry, I didn't mean it earlier."
"That you shouldn't smile. I like it when you smile."
Harry swallowed the lump of emotion that welled up in his throat. "Even if you had meant it, I wouldn't care," he said truthfully. "I can't help but smile when you're around."
Draco chuckled sleepily. "Don't be such a cheese, Potter…"
"Go back to sleep," Harry laughed, gently nudging Draco's back with his knee.
"Mmm," Draco murmured. "Merry Christmas, Harry. I'll buy you a really nice present… tomorrow…"
"Merry Christmas, Draco. And don't bother; I don't need one."
Draco, however, had already drifted back to sleep.
Harry sighed and carefully adjusted the quilt over Draco's legs. It's true, he realised, as he lightly kissed the fine strands of blond hair that covered the top of Draco's head. I have a million Christmases worth of gifts right here in my arms.
A/N: The line "You have more shirts than Bertie Botts has beans!" was kinda-sorta modelled after the line "At that age, you're supposed to have more hormones in your bloodstream than Bertie Botts has beans" from the fic Eclipse by PhoenixSong. Everyone should go check it out!
Happy Holidays, everyone!