Festive Fundamentals - by Sara's Girl
Disclaimer: Yeah, I don't own it. But I do have a Dark Mark and a Gryffindor girlfriend and a boundless imagination, so it's all good.
AN – I wrote a Christmas story! Good grief. Limitless thanks to Marie for free-flowing Harry-inspiration.
For everyone who reads my daft stories and makes me feel loved with their wonderful comments and endless support.
Happy Holidays, everyone. Mulled apple juice and cake for all!
"Oh, no... look!" Clive cries, tugging gently at Harry's sleeve.
Pausing in his task of untangling a string of miniature lanterns, Harry looks down to see an expression of genuine distress on the little boy's face as he holds out a large glass bauble with a broken string. The blue eyes are so serious that Harry bites down on his smile and instead mutters a wandless Reparo to make the golden string knit back together. Clive beams. Idly wishing everyone was so easily impressed, Harry grabs his wand and taps at the bauble until it flashes with red and green light.
"Wow," Clive whispers, and carries the glass ball to the tree with the utmost care. As he searches for a spare branch on which to hang the rescued decoration, there's a soft snort from Draco's side of the tree.
All things in balance, Harry supposes. Draco is never going to be someone who's easily impressed—unless it's something to do with shiny stationery—and it's no surprise that he's unmoved by Harry's string-mending skills and by Christmas in general. From what Harry has been able to gather over the months, Draco hasn't properly celebrated Christmas since well before the war broke out, hasn't hung decorations or eaten a special meal or exchanged gifts with his mother.
If Harry's honest, he's impressed that he's managed to persuade Draco into helping him and Clive to decorate the living room at Grimmauld Place. Because Draco is here, and however reluctant, derisive and un-festive he may be, he's indulging Harry's need to celebrate the season. He's helped to get the decorations down from the attic. He's created silver bubbles with his wand and stuck them all over the mantelpiece at Harry's request. He's sorted through the box of decorations with a raised eyebrow that still isn't showing any sign of descending.
Grey eyes meet Harry's through the gaps in the branches and the spark of warmth there is so unexpected that Harry pricks his finger on a spiky pine needle for what feels like the hundredth time this evening.
Conscious of Clive, still rustling about somewhere near his feet, he fights the 'fucking ow' that wants to come out, and instead sucks his fingers into his mouth.
"I told you to get one of those pretend trees," Draco says, retrieving a length of silver tinsel from around his shoulders and using his wand to prod it safely into place on the tree. "Much less dangerous."
"Yeah, but the real ones smell like Christmas," Harry says stubbornly through a mouthful of sore finger.
Draco rolls his eyes. "As usual, you astound me with your unique grasp of logic." He steps closer around the tree and extends his hand expectantly until Harry pulls his finger from his mouth and holds it out for Draco's inspection.
There isn't really anything to heal, but Harry appreciates the gesture all the same, even though he knows that it's probably twenty-five percent concern and seventy-five percent 'I told you so'. Still, whatever Draco's motivation, the ripple of therapeutic magic is cool and soothing against his skin, and he smiles involuntarily.
"Thank you. And my logic is brilliant." Harry ruffles Clive's hair absently. "Less talking and more tree decorating, please," he adds, gazing at Draco with his best stern expression.
Draco's eyes flare with disbelief and for a moment he looks as though he's going to protest, but he seems to reconsider, holding the acidic words back with a small sigh and instead reaching for another piece of multicoloured tinsel. Harry sees his eyes flick down to the child at his feet, even if it's only for a second, and he bites his lip.
Because he knows that Draco doesn't really do Christmas, but Christmas is for kids, really, and now they have Clive to consider. After all, Narcissa, even when making an effort, is about as festive as a lump of humbug-flavoured coal. Therefore, as far as Harry can see, he has no choice but to shoulder the responsibility for showing Clive the Christmas spirit himself. With Draco's assistance, whether he likes it or not.
"This one's singing, Harry!"
"Certainly is," Harry says, reflecting Clive's grin back to him.
"Can I take this to show Mrs Mafloy?"
Draco emits a small sound of amusement, and Harry can't blame him—the image of Narcissa Malfoy's face as she patiently admires a singing, sparkling wooden snowman is an extremely entertaining one.
"Please," Harry mutters automatically.
"Please can I?" Clive rephrases, almost vibrating with excitement.
"She'll be delighted," Draco opines, voice dry and eyes narrowed in concentration.
Amused, Harry nods. Despite the hard-won respect and cautious affection he now shares with Narcissa, he's still occasionally taken aback by the little boy's boundless adoration for the snooty old bugger.
Still, he's painfully conscious that it's Clive's first Christmas without his mum, and anything he can do to make it special and as painless as possible has to be a good thing. From the way that Clive has oohed and aahed over the gigantic spruce and gazed at the decorations with saucer-like blue eyes, Harry suspects that he's never experienced the sort of lavish family Christmases Draco has described.
He thinks that on balance, that may not be such a bad thing. It's not about stuff, after all. It's about... the feeling. Harry breathes in deeply and looks around the warm, softly-lit room. It's about the silly little things. The smells of pine and spices and the musty scent of the decorations that have lain untouched in the attic for almost a year. The almost imperceptible glow of the charm Hermione taught him to stop the needles dropping from the tree, the one she insists she didn't learn from Mrs Weasley. The lingering aroma of sausages and herbs and gravy drifting in from the kitchen from the remnants of their toad-in-the-hole supper. The crinkling and rustling of the brown paper bag with the string handles that has definitely seen better days but that has held his Christmas decorations for years now, and he knows he won't throw it away until it's falling apart, and maybe not even then.
"There are far too many decorations for this tree, Harry." Draco's weary voice cuts into Harry's thoughts and he blinks.
"I know," he says at last. "Just stick them on there anywhere you can fit them."
Draco lifts an eyebrow but says nothing for long seconds, instead folding his arms across his chest and casting a critical gaze over the crowded tree. At last, he clears his throat and looks at Harry.
"So... essentially, you want it to look as though Christmas has vomited in the corner of the room?"
Affronted, Harry folds his arms, too, and meets amused silvery eyes that are full of challenge.
"Vomited?" he repeats, incredulous. "Christmas has vomited?"
Draco shrugs wordlessly and Harry can feel a pair of bright blue eyes fixed upon him, curious and expectant. Chewing his lip, Harry looks at his tree. And alright, his decorations are mismatched and chaotic; some change colour and some flash or sparkle or sing. He knows he went a little bit mad with the purchasing of baubles and tinsels and wreaths that first year on his own at Grimmauld Place, and he knows there are too many, but he rather likes it that way, and anyway, if Draco is right, Harry's not about to tell him so. The inevitable smugness would be unbearable.
"Yes," Harry says decisively after a moment. "I want it to look exactly like it looks."
With a theatrical sigh, Draco tucks the last piece of tinsel into place and withdraws from the tree.
"Clive and I are going over here," he says, leaning down to pick up the little boy with a now-practised ease that Harry can't help but admire, "before we become infected by your display of rampant Gryffindor... festivity." He wrinkles his nose and Clive copies him, twisting small hands into the front of Draco's sage coloured sweater.
"What do you have to say, young man?" Harry enquires, hands on hips.
Clive looks at him and kicks his dangling feet back and forth in deep thought, narrowly missing doing Draco some serious damage. Draco leans in and whispers something unintelligible into Clive's ear.
"Vomit tree," Clive says solemnly, and behind him grey eyes glitter with triumph.
"Traitor," Harry mutters, turning away from them to hang the last shiny red bauble. As he slides it from his finger onto what admittedly seems like the last available branch, there's a soft shuffling sound from behind him. He squints into the reflection in the bauble and, sure enough, they're still standing there in the exact same spot.
"I thought you were removing yourselves from all of this tasteless festivity," Harry says, eyebrow raised, and probably sounding a little more put out than he intends to.
"I never said tasteless," Draco points out, smirking.
"You said it was a vomit tree!" Harry protests.
"Drake said he'd make me hot chocolate if I said vomitree," Clive puts in helpfully, and Draco's expression is one of pure exasperation, as though bitterly disappointed that his bargaining with a five-year-old hasn't quite worked out the way he planned.
Harry smiles. He says nothing, but heads over to the almost-empty bag of decorations on the floor, pausing to poke Clive on the end of the nose as he passes. He retrieves the last and most important item, fingers closing around cold points of burnished metal and brushing over intricately twisted wires. This, unlike the rest of his whirring, flashing, multi-coloured wizarding decorations, came from a Muggle shop—a tiny homewares store across the road from his favourite coffee place.
It's tasteful and quite beautiful, and he's almost certain there's nothing here to offend Draco's delicate aesthetic sensibilities. He hopes. Not that it'll stop him either way, because once the star's on the tree, it's really, officially Christmas. That's just the rule. And it's his house—well, it's their house now, but if Draco wants to be a miserable bastard, he can do it in another room.
"Can we put marshma... lelloes in, Drake?" drifts to Harry's ears, and he turns to face the pair of turncoats once more, but neither are looking at him, gazing as they are raptly at one another as though involved in some sort of deep psychic exchange.
"I don't know, I think you might've eaten all the marsh-ma-lleloes last time," Draco says with a tone of grave consideration. And without, Harry notices, pedantically correcting Clive's pronunciation as he always used to. He doesn't even bat an eyelid at 'Drake' any more, and Harry had once feared that he'd never be able to let that one go. Draco, against all odds, has lightened up immeasurably in the twelve months since Clive was thrust into their lives.
"Should we make some for Harry, too?" Clive asks. "He looks cross."
The child's tone is so heavy with sincere concern that Harry wants to smile. He looks up, catching Draco's eyes, and his irritation flares warmly in his chest. He's not sure if he is cross, but some unnamed emotion has hold of him and he's not sure what to do with it. Perhaps it's as simple as the fact that, having taken pains to use the rich, dark, mismatched colours rather than the garish ones that hurt Draco's eyes, Draco is still typically unimpressed.
Frowning, Draco sets Clive down and sends him ahead to the kitchen. Harry listens to the echo of his clattering footsteps without looking away from Draco, and yet is still startled when Draco steps right into his personal space, grabs both of his wrists tightly and kisses him with unexpected vigour. Breath catching as Draco urges his mouth open with a warm tongue, Harry recovers himself and kisses back, closing his eyes against the twinkling lights and responding to Draco's rough caresses with a sudden hot desperation that makes his chest ache.
When they pull apart, Harry rubs his grazed wrists and licks the taste of coffee and illicit after-dinner mints from his lips. He's not sure if he's still cross or if he ever was, but his heart pounds pleasantly and Draco's eyes are warm and he thinks it's probably alright either way. Draco Malfoy has always had his ways of getting around these things, and Harry knows there's no use fighting it.
Draco sighs softly and casts a baleful glance at 'vomit tree'.
"If you put that star on without me, I shall kill you."
He grins and stalks into the kitchen after Clive without waiting for a response from Harry.
Alone in the room at last, Harry gazes down at the star in his hands and allows the treacherous smile to curve his lips. From the kitchen he can hear flapping from the top cupboard, the low drawl of Draco's voice and the excited piping of Clive's as they no doubt conspire to make a horrible, sticky, delicious chocolatey mess of all the surfaces.
Carefully, he sets the star down on the nearest arm of the sofa and goes to join them, smile shifting into a smirk. He's got a bit of tinsel with that cupboard's name on it.