Sorry for making you guys wait. A ridiculous amount of crazy shit has happened within the past two months and a lot of stuff has needed sorting out. I hope to finish this story properly before next month, so hold on! I'm not going to let myself rush the end of this story when I know so many lovely, loyal readers (and new ones too) have been patiently looking forward to how it ends.
Neville woke up to a sore face and an unexpected sight. A handsome, dark-skinned young man was laying beside Neville, resting on his elbow, and pinching Neville's nose with his thumb and forefinger.
Neville shook his head until Blaise let go, and lifted his hands to rub the sleep from his eyes, vaguely registering that one of them had been resting on Blaise's side.
'G'mornin,' Neville said, then sat bolt upright. 'Oh! Merry Christmas!'
'Merry Christmas. Has anyone told you that you snore?'
'Oh ... no,' Neville said, suddenly feeling embarrassed. Going from sleepy to excited to extremely self-conscious, all within the space of a few seconds, was making him feel flustered and amplifying his desire to go straight back to sleep. He barely felt that he had properly awoken.
'You also didn't wake me up,' Blaise admonished. 'I slept in. This is the first time I've slept in in years.'
'I ... I'm sorry,' Neville said, unsure of how to reply. Blaise smiled.
'I intended to thank you for that, actually. It's a pleasure not to wake up before six thirty for once. It was ... agreeable, sleeping here. You have a very comfortable body, and a decent bed. Except for these horrible colours. I don't know how you cope sleeping under such a disgusting shade of scarlet.'
Neville let Blaise talk as he adjusted to the morning. It was a strange one, but an unexpectedly good one. Waking up with anyone in his bed, let alone Blaise, was a situation he'd never had the imagination to fantasize about. Yet here Blaise was, reclining comfortably next to him, as if he owned the entire room.
And it was Christmas.
'You look awfully goofy all of a sudden. What are you smiling about?'
'It's Christmas. And you're here.'
Blaise was momentarily at a loss for words, and Neville used it as a chance to lean forward and kiss him. He didn't know why. It was an impulsive action. He made sure to keep his mouth closed in case he had morning breath.
Blaise seemed to approve of the direction the morning was taking. His lips became pliant and encouraging under the gentle pressure of Neville's kiss, and he even placed his hand on the side of Neville's neck, lazily stroking with his thumb.
'You're warm,' Blaise mumbled into the kiss. He wrapped an arm around Neville's middle and used his surprisingly strong limbs to roll Neville's body on top of his, holding tight and pushing his face into Neville's collar. Shocked into complacency, Neville lay where he was, feeling the firmness of Blaise's body and the fine texture of last night's clothing.
'Don't be so stiff. And I am talking about your muscles. It's unforgivably drafty in here, and I need you to be my human blanket until I feel like getting up.'
Neville grinned into the pillow and acquiesced, settling his arms so they covered Blaise's sides and letting his legs fall to either side of his guests'. A quick glance at the watch on his bedside table told him it was mid-morning already. He figured he could spend another half an hour or so in this position.
'We need a wash,' were the first words Harry heard on Christmas morning.
Draco was still half-laying on top of Harry, legs and arms splayed in various directions, face-down on a pillow. His statement had been muffled, and by the way his entire body stayed completely still, it seemed to Harry like he was lacking in motivation.
Harry himself didn't feel like moving. He felt far too comfortable where he was, and his arse was still very achy. He already wondered if Narcissa would notice him limping.
'Should I wear the suit you bought me today, or just normal clothes?' Harry asked. He couldn't believe himself for asking such a ... well, gay question, but the expectations were different in this house, he felt. It was a question that needed asking to avoid a faux pas of national scale. Narcissa was tolerant, but she was still very much a lady, and a rich one, with a very fancy house.
Harry struggled out from under Draco's torso and managed to locate his watch. He held it up to his face to check the time.
'Dear Lord, yes please.'
'No, I mean, it's almost nine-thirty!'
'So? I'm tired.'
'The rest of the world doesn't slow down to accommodate your desire to nap.'
'The rest of the world isn't joining us for Christmas.'
'Your mother is. What if she's already waiting for us?'
'She's very good at criticizing my sleeping habits. I don't suppose she mentioned who I inherited my laziness from?'
'That's not the point. Come on,' Harry said, wriggling and kicking his way out of bed, managing to get Draco's arms and chest out from under the covers before he seriously decided to fight back and wrench Harry onto the mattress.
Harry barely had time to realize they were both still naked before Draco trapped his arms underneath him, and throwing the sheets around his middle, tightening them and dragging Harry into his embrace.
'You're trapping me here.'
'To avoid getting out of bed.'
'That's just about the size of it.'
'If you have so much energy, why don't you use it to get dressed?'
'Look at this from my perspective for once, Harry. In a choice between having you naked and at my mercy, or doing something productive that leads to being clothed and unable to sex you up for the rest of the morning, which would I realistically choose? Honestly, it's as if you don't know me at all.'
Harry sighed and feigned continued annoyance. Draco was gently nibbling his earlobe.
'Just let me make you come,' Draco whispered obscenely, 'then I'll run us a bath. I promise.'
Without waiting for permission, Draco slid his hand up Harry's inner thigh and found his crotch, then wrapped his hand firmly around Harry's dick. With a few quick strokes Harry was hard, and feeling Draco's responding firmness pressed up against him.
Draco was relentless and efficient. He seemed intent on nothing more than watching Harry come to pieces. Harry came within five minutes, panting and groaning Draco's name. Draco moved his slick hand to his own cock as Harry's was still dribbling come, and finished himself off with an open mouth and tightly-shut eyes.
Released from the pressure of Draco's tight embrace, Harry tumbled weakly to the floor and managed to locate his glasses before Draco had time to sneak back under the covers.
Ten minutes later, Harry was convinced they weren't going to get downstairs before eleven. Draco had dragged himself melodramatically to the en suite and begun to get the bath ready only after Harry had convinced him that they weren't getting back in bed.
At ten o'clock, the bath was ready and Harry was considering just wiping himself down with a moist towel, but Draco would have none of it.
At twenty past ten, Harry had his second orgasm of the morning.
Harry was right. They weren't even at the top of the stairs before his watch said eleven. His fingers were still slightly pruny, and the bubble bath had made his head spin pleasantly. He had given up thinking about it and thrown on a pair of new jeans Malfoy had bought and hidden in Harry's bag (they were expensive, dark blue, and, Harry melted when he saw it; a muggle brand) and a plain shirt and jacket. Draco had dressed in his usual ensemble of luxuriously pricy black and green formal clothes, and looked, in Harry's eyes at least, like a prince.
They both quickly combed their hair and stole a kiss in their final moment of privacy, and descended the stairs toward the room Narcissa had said they'd be spending Christmas morning in before a late breakfast.
They arrived in the doorway and Harry was about to ask Draco if he thought there was more noise coming through the door than usual. All thought of wearing the right clothes flew out of Harry's thoughts. All thought of appearing as if he were limping were forgotten. His mind went completely blank.
The Christmas tree looked nothing short of magnificent, the very top scraping the high ceiling and the decorations dancing and floating and twirling, each seemingly with a mind of its own. Stylish decorations hung from the wall hangings and the fireplace, and the presents seemed to have accumulated overnight.
But Harry only noticed those things after he noticed the guests.
'Would you like some tarts, boys?' Mrs Weasley said, offering a plate. Outwardly, she looked unfazed that she was standing in front of Draco Malfoy for the first time, though surely she had heard all about him from her sons.
Recovering quickly from the shock, Draco straightened up and placed his hand on Harry's lower back.
'I have my tart right here, Mrs Weasley,' he said calmly. 'And I think it's the host's job to offer the treats to his guests. With that in mind,' he said, taking the tray from Mrs Weasley and holding it like a waiter, 'may I offer some refreshment?'
Mrs Weasley halted for a moment, then burst out laughing. The sound caught Narcissa's attention, and she winked at Harry from across the room. He smiled back, still slightly flushed from Draco's "tart" comment and reeling from the sight of the Weasley family in one of the grandest rooms of Malfoy Manor.
'Well, you are a gentleman, Mr Malfoy,' Mrs Weasley said. 'And thank you, I think I shall.'
Harry looked around the room. Fred (or maybe George) was showing a pink feathered hat to Hermione, which looked suspiciously like one of their Headless Hats (the memory of their first demonstration made Harry feel slightly ill), and Ginny and Bill were sitting on one of the sofas, stroking the expensive cushions and gazing about at the elaborate decorations and lavish furniture. Arthur stood by the fireplace in his best robe, holding a champagne flute of something bubbly and having a merry discussion with George (or maybe Fred) while Percy stood by with a briefcase under his arm. Charlie nursed a glass of red wine and chatted with Narcissa.
Most of the Weasleys looked as if they had pulled on their best clothes in something of a hurry. Only the twins and the girls looked unselfconscious. Ginny and Hermione had opted for the comfortably elegant look, while Fred and George wore their brightest, loudest robes, either in mockery or honour of the situation; it was hard to tell.
It looked as if most of them had only just arrived.
Harry's eyes finally settled on Ron, who was standing awkwardly in a corner with a glass of something mango-coloured.
Harry met Ron's eyes. There was a split second where the room became silent for Harry, and he touched Draco's arm.
'I'm just going to ...'
'It's fine. Go on,' Draco said, nudging Harry gently in Ron's direction without a glance.
Harry crossed the room toward Ron, hugging a few people in greeting along the way. Ginny was among them, but mostly it seemed the family was aware that Harry and Ron needed to talk face-to-face before either of them was going to be properly bearable.
'Merry Christmas,' Harry said. Friendly, but not overdone, he thought. It was a fair enough greeting.
'Merry Christmas,' Ron replied. He seemed to have trouble looking Harry in the eyes. Harry wondered if the ball was back in his court, and if so, what he should do with it. Every passing second made him wonder if he ought to have given more thought to how he'd handle a conversation with Ron if he ever had to suffer one again.
'Fancy sort of house,' Ron said, coughing self consciously. 'Nearly got lost walking down the hallway. Been here long then?'
'No,' Harry said. His spirits lifted a little. Ron still looked like he was about to shrivel out of awkwardness, but he was talking. He was there. 'Just arrived a couple of days ago.'
Ron nodded. He coughed again, then looked at the wall behind Harry's head. Harry leaned to the left slightly to Ron was looking at his face.
'It's an alright place,' Ron said. It sounded as if he was forcing the words out. 'And Miz Malfoy ... she's orright, in't she?'
'Yeah,' Harry said, allowing himself a little smile. 'She's friendlier than I was expecting. Did she invite you all just last night?'
Ron nodded, ears still flaming. Bill approached. Not entirely sure, but feeling a lot better than he had when the awkward talk began, Harry shook Bill's hand and allowed him to join in and monopolize the conversation.
Narcissa soon directed everyone's attention to the tree and presents beneath it. Harry could see several piles, with the Weasley presents mixed in with the more fancily wrapped presents. Narcissa had gotten carried away with buying her son presents, it seemed, but Harry guessed that was normal by the way Draco accepted it. Thankfully, Draco discreetly opened most of his in the background while the Weasleys made a fuss over theirs and over Harrys.
From Narcissa, Mrs Weasley had a new dress (by the way she made a fuss, Harry guessed it was the first new dress she'd gotten in a while). Mr Weasley had a compendium of obscure "muggle artefacts" and their uses throughout history. He read parts of it out and showed pictures to people throughout the day, and Hermione and Harry were consistently astonished by how much witches and wizards didn't know. Fred and George had, that afternoon, several owls from people concerning their business and proposals for starting a franchise (Mrs Malfoy still had some powerful friends, it seemed). Bill, Charlie and Percy also had gifts concerning their professions, and Ginny, like Fred and George, was contacted by an agent. Except, this agent wanted to represent her.
'Miss Delmorales has tutored some of the most famous figures in the duelling world,' Narcissa explained to an astonished Ginny. 'Draco mentioned your considerable skill, as did Harry. It can be a profitable talent, should you consider pursuing it.'
Harry didn't even know that there was such a thing as a professional duellist, though Ginny seemed excited at the thought. It did suit her. Narcissa was right, after all; Ginny had a talent, and the pair of them probably had mentioned that it was a strength of hers without meaning to lead Narcissa to the conclusion.
Ron received a new broom. He was speechless for a while, but this didn't matter. The colour of his ears and the way he stammered his thanks said enough.
Mrs Weasley seemed embarrassed when Draco unwrapped his knitted sweater. By the time she had clearly put in, Harry reflexively shot Draco a "don't-you-dare" look, but Draco had already removed his jacket and begun to put the thing on before he even looked Harry's way.
'Does it bring out my eyes?' he asked playfully. It was blue. Harry nodded silently. Narcissa warmly thanked Mrs Weasley.
'I might make clothes for him,' she said thoughtfully. 'If I knew how. It's an ability I don't possess, I'm afraid.'
Harry got a knitted sweater as well, as did all the Weasley children. Mrs Weasley had put extra effort into crocheting a long, tearose-pink lace-style cardigan for Narcissa, which Narcissa wore happily for the rest of the day over her dress.
Ron had grudgingly bought sweets for Draco as well as Harry. The exchange of gifts went on for longer than Harry was used to, but everyone in the room seemed to appreciate it.
Breakfast was served into the dining room. The long table felt easier to sit at when it was lined on all sides with Weasleys and Malfoys, more relaxed than they been in the late morning.
Didier had outdone himself.
'I've never a meal that was more than two courses, counting dessert,' Ginny said, slumped on a recliner in the library.
Percy had left after lunch, thanking Narcissa profusely, and looking genuinely sad that he had to leave. Bill had gone as well, though Charlie had stuck around to talk with Narcissa and his parents. They were in the older part of the library, drinking wine and tea. Harry and his friends (and Draco) could hear them laugh every now and again.
Draco was taking liberties with Ron's patience and relaxing with his head in Harry's lap on the couch. Hermione and Ron sat together on the second couch. Both faced the fireplace. Ginny sat on the recliner to Harry's left, and the twins were coming and going, spending most of their time responding to Narcissa's friends in the business world.
'Your family works too much,' Draco blithely commented to Ginny, or perhaps to Ron. He had thrown his arm over his eyes and sounded half-asleep. Lunch had been very filling, and everyone had, for want of a more appropriate phrase, pigged out.
'Because we have to work,' Ginny said. 'We don't have the luxury of inheritance.'
Harry bit his lower lip guiltily, and Ginny gave him a look as if to say "I wasn't talking about you".
'Fred and George love their business,' Hermione commented. 'They aren't focussing on it now because they have to, but because they want to.'
'Lazy people don't understand the idea,' Harry said. It earned him an elbow in the belly, but Ginny chuckled.
'Can you picture me as a famous duellist?' she asked, gesturing grandly.
'I can,' Hermione said.
'Don't encourage her,' Ron said. 'She'll turn into a monster. Besides, it's probably a really dangerous industry.'
'You'll feel right at home, then,' Draco said, poking Ginny's side with his foot.
Harry marvelled at how, the day before, he had not dared imagine the rift between his love and his friends healing. But here they were, in Malfoy Manor. Sitting together again, like always.
Harry knew Voldemort was still out there. He knew his godfather was still dead, and the war was not yet over. But one war was. It was a little one, and it could only be the beginning, but it was a problem close to his heart that had been fixed. He still had allies and now, he knew he had his friends. And he had love. He had Draco.
Let Voldemort come when he's ready, Harry thought.
They stood together. That was all he needed.