I wrote this fic for HD HOLIDAYS on Livejournal. There are so many amazing fics there, it would take you months to read them all. WOOT! So, this totally is a holiday story, but I have no problem sprinkling gingerbread everywhere I go, so enjoy! AND YOU GET THE WHOLE THING!
Harry's final year at Hogwarts started off as strangely as he had expected. The school was demolished in places, even with nonstop repair efforts. The Sorting Ceremony was short; either there were not many 1st year students, or parents were keeping them from Hogwarts. The subsequent feast was quiet. Students were subdued, almost shell-shocked, for the first few weeks of classes. New teachers joined the ranks of the old, filling obvious gaps.
The few returning "eighth year" students were shuffled in with the seventh years. Luckily, the resulting awkwardness faded after only a few days. Sleeping arrangements were completely reorganized, much to the relief of most students. Harry still had Ron in his new dorm room, but Neville had been shifted elsewhere and three younger students had been placed with them.
Despite the strangeness and frequent pangs of sadness, Harry and his friends adapted well, sliding back into the familiarity of classes, and lessons, and revisions with relative ease. Harry found himself more relaxed than he had ever been, likely due to the lack of Voldemort's presence lurking in the back of his mind. It was amazing how the absence of an imminent death threat affected one's outlook.
Malfoy was still there, of course, glaring and smirking and lurking in the halls like a thin spectre of his old self, shadowed on two sides once more, although Crabbe and Goyle had been replaced by a hulking fifth year student named Smead and a thin but evil-looking sixth year they called Bark. Smead seemed to enjoy the sound of his own voice and chattered incessantly, earning an irritated stare from Malfoy at least six times an hour. Bark said nothing, only nodded obediently at every word Smead or Malfoy uttered while slurping on a seemingly endless supply of licorice whips, which left his lips, tongue, and sometimes teeth an unpleasant shade of purple-black.
Harry thought minions must be in short supply.
He had returned Malfoy's wand two weeks before school, arranging to meet Malfoy in Diagon Alley. They had met on the street, Harry flanked by Ron and Hermione, Malfoy by Pansy Parkinson and Blaise Zabini. Harry had handed him his wand with a simple, "Thanks." Malfoy had taken it without a word, nodded curtly, and Disapparated, followed by his friends.
"Ungrateful git," Ron had muttered.
At school, however, Malfoy ignored him completely. He ignored nearly everyone, choosing to attend classes with his head down, seemingly focussed only on finishing his schooling and disappearing forever. He did not even bother to bully younger students, although his new minions took delight in doing so whenever he was not around to restrain them.
The air of unreality was largely gone by the first week of December.
Unexpectedly, a rush of holiday spirit seemed to grip the entire school. Hagrid and Flitwick soon had Hogwarts looking like a festive explosion, with holly, evergreens, ornaments and fairy lights adorning nearly every available surface.
Students sang in the halls. Owls were kept busy sending out orders and bringing in gifts. Meals were accompanied by treats and sweets, and delicacies glittering with snowy sugar, candied fruit bits, and chocolate in every conceivable form.
McGonagall, always quick to spot a bandwagon, eagerly capitalized on the fever of holiday-induced joy by announcing a contest. Harry secretly thought McGonagall was annoyed by the poor showing of all four Quidditch teams—none of them had a team worth bragging about—and she hoped that a bit of off-field rivalry might invoke some added house spirit.
"A decorating contest?" Ron asked dubiously. "Has she gone barmy? Look at the place. If it gets any more decorated we'll have bloody reindeer and Jack Frost roaming the halls."
"Hagrid and the other teachers have only decorated the public spaces, Ron," Hermione said as she led them through the hall even though her attention seemed to be solely focussed on the book she held open in front of her. "We will all be assigned to special, identical halls on the upper levels. Were you not listening again?"
Harry hadn't really been listening, either. His attention had zeroed in on the Slytherin table, watching to see how the Slytherins reacted to the news. As expected, they appeared less than excited at the prospect.
Malfoy had looked bored, Zabini had laughed, Parkinson had glared at the Headmistress as though not believing her ears, and Malfoy's goons had looked puzzled. Then again, they usually looked puzzled, so there had really been no change there.
"The Slytherins should have an easy time of it," Dean Thomas commented. "They can just drag in a couple of trees and call it green."
Harry grinned, knowing Dean was partially right. They would all decorate according to their house colours. The Gryffindor girls already had their heads together, arguing over bells and bows.
"Don't think you're getting out of it," Hermione warned. "This will be good for all of us. We need some cheer."
Despite good intentions, things quickly warped in ways that the Headmistress could not have imagined. Sabotage and pranks became the order of the day. Harry and Ron lurked beneath the invisibility cloak at one edge of the partially-decorated Slytherin Hall, which was on the 6th floor. Each house had been assigned a floor using the scientific method called "alphabetical" which gave Gryffindor the 3rd, Hufflepuff the 4th, Ravenclaw the 5th, and Slytherin the floor closest to Gryffindor tower.
The Slytherins complained bitterly, of course, at being forced to walk all the way from the dungeons to the 6th floor.
"Looks all right," Ron muttered. He did not need to be particularly quiet, as the only other inhabitants of the hall were two third-year Slytherin girls hanging garland while a seventh year boy watched with a bored mien.
Harry thought it was gorgeous. The Slytherins had gone with a winter theme, pulling in the outdoors, as Dean had predicted, but using it only as a backdrop for a wonderland of glittering ice and sparkling silver. The trees were covered in snow, real flakes of which drifted from the ceiling to collect on the floor. Icicles coated more bushes and trees, gleaming green and white from bunches of fairy lights that hovered over their branches. Huge evergreens were bedecked with silver ornaments of every sort, and draped with shimmering green and silver ribbons.
The floor had been turned into an ice rink, skirted by a path of crushed white gravel and a tiny white fence draped in green garland and tied with silver bows.
"They might win," said Harry, mentally comparing it to the glaring red and gold of their own halls. Gryffindors had been loathe to use green, so they had gone with a nutcracker and toy soldier theme. Harry thought the place looked like an oversized toy shop.
"Are we here to admire the place, or are we here to sabotage?" Ron asked huffily.
"Sabotage," Harry said quickly. The previous night, some Slytherins had crept onto the Gryffindor floor (despite two sentinels and a barrage of Warning Charms – not that similar spells had stopped Harry and Ron) and dressed all of the giant nutcrackers in Slytherin robes and scarves.
"We could melt the pond," Ron suggested.
Harry considered it, but it seemed too simple and easily fixed. They needed something bigger. They had to think outside the box. They needed to think like… like George Weasley.
"I think I've got it," Harry said and grinned at Ron.
It took them some time to get it right. They consulted with several of the less scrupulous Gryffindors (not Hermione) and finally Fire-called George. The former Weasley twin made it sound deceptively simple, but by the time the spell was set and they returned to fall into their beds, the clock chimed three forty-five.
Four hours of sleep was definitely not enough, but Harry was not about to miss the show. He dragged Ron out of bed, along with their other accomplices, and hurried to the sixth floor hallway. They arrived just as a group of Slytherins appeared, huffing slightly from the climb—it was a goodly distance from the dungeons.
Malfoy was not among them, much to Harry's disappointment.
"What did you prats do?" one of them asked upon spotting the Gryffindors.
"Nothing," Dean replied innocently with a grin.
The Slytherins walked into the decorated portion of the hall gingerly, their eyes scanning for signs of vandalism, wands out. The scene looked placid, just as lovely as it had the previous night.
"I don't see anything," a Slytherin girl snapped. Harry thought she resembled a giraffe.
"There has to be something," Blaise Zabini retorted, "or they wouldn't stand here looking so expectant."
"You're right!" The girl turned and gestured toward the Gryffindors with her wand. "You lot! Come here. You're walking through, first."
Harry looked at Ron, who stared back with a slightly alarmed expression for a moment, but Harry only laughed and said, "All right." He shrugged and began to walk toward the Slytherins. The path had been enchanted to repel snow, so he was in no danger of slipping as the gravel crunched beneath his feet. The other Gryffindors trailed after him.
Blaise Zabini watched them warily as they passed. Harry gave him a jaunty grin, earning a glare. They walked the length of the path and Harry admired the view as he strode. The Slytherins had really done an amazing job. The hall was beautiful. The ceiling had been enchanted to resemble a bright blue sky, but snowflakes continued to fall. Harry suspected the walls were next on the Slytherin list of projects, as the dark brick was still visible through the trees.
He turned to look behind him and noticed the first Slytherin stepping warily onto the path. The Gryffindors quickened their pace by mutual unspoken agreement. They rapidly reached the far end of the hall and turned back.
The Slytherins made it to the centre of the path without mishap and then it happened. Zabini was the first to give out a strangled yelp and the Slytherin girl screamed. The Gryffindors burst into simultaneous laughter.
"Potter!" Zabini roared, but the bellow only made Harry laugh harder.
The male Slytherins wore cute Santa dresses, bright red, with white fur trim edged in large bands of gold. Tiny halter vests covered their torsos—barely—and jaunty Santa hats with white and gold tassels perched atop their heads. The lone girl Slytherin had grown antlers and also wore a harness with bells.
"A camera!" Ron yelled and wiped away tears of laughter. "We should have brought a camera!"
"I did!" said Dennis Creevey, clicking snap after snap with his brother's old camera. The sight of it brought a pang to Harry even as the knowledge of photographic evidence made him laugh harder.
"Run!" Dean yelled as the dress and reindeer-clad Slytherins raced toward them.
The Gryffindors scattered.
"Nice legs, Zabini!" Ron yelled clutching Harry's arm as they raced around the corner. Zabini really did have nice legs, Harry admitted to himself. But he wished he could have seen Malfoy's. For the amusement value only, of course.
Surprisingly, the Slytherins did not retaliate upon the Gryffindor's nutcracker-bedecked hall that night; at least, not that they could tell.
Harry walked to breakfast with Dennis Creevey tagging along. "Hey, Harry, why didn't we get Santa suits when the Slytherins did?"
"Why do you ask, Dennis? Do you want one?" Harry asked.
Dennis blushed scarlet. "NO! No, of course not. I was just—"
Harry laughed. "Relax, Dennis. I was joking. The spell was triggered by the Slytherin crests on their robes."
"Brilliant," Dennis breathed.
Harry nodded, thinking it rather was. A Slytherin boy walked past him and sang in a low voice, "Deck the halls…"
"With boughs of holly, falalalalaaaaa la la la laaaa," Harry sang, shocking himself. Dennis joined in and they stared at each other in surprise as they began the next stanza. "Don we now our gay apparel, falala lalala la la laaaa!"
Harry tried forcibly to close his mouth, even using his hands, but the song refused to be bottled. His jaw continued to move even with his hands clamped over his lips, and it was loud enough to draw attention. Onlookers hooted with laughed. Dennis looked just as mortified as he sang along, words muffled by his own hands.
Harry heard familiar laughter and glanced over to see Malfoy standing next to Blaise Zabini. The dark-skinned boy looked vengefully smug, but Malfoy appeared simply amused.
Harry thankfully stopped singing when the song ended. He lowered his hands and looked at Dennis.
"On the first day of Christmas…" Malfoy sang suddenly and then stopped.
"…my true love gave to me, a partridge in a pear tree…" Harry sang, unable to stop himself. His eyes widened in horror as he realized he would have to sing the entire thing, most of the words of which he could not even recall. Dennis joined in, miserably.
Zabini and a growing gathering of students stood around, cheering and laughing; some of them even sang along. Malfoy only crossed his arms, leaned against the wall, and smirked. Somehow, that was more humiliating than the rest.
Harry grabbed Dennis' arm and dragged him toward the great hall. He could not speak through the need to sing, but the gesture was obvious. They fled.
Straight into the Great Hall. The first Gryffindor that heard them singing took up the song and the others immediately joined in, until every Gryffindor in the room was helplessly heralding the Twelve Days of Christmas.
Harry tried to feel annoyed, but it was somehow easier to bear when the entire House shared his misery. Apparently, the spell conveyed no magical wisdom when it came to knowing the words, because Ron stumbled through the song, substituting phrases at will.
The other students listened in awe, except the Slytherins, who laughed uproariously. When the song ended, one of them started into Jingle Bells, but McGonagall abruptly cancelled the spell. Harry thankfully stopped singing and dug into his breakfast. He met Malfoy's gaze and gave him a reluctant smile and shake of his head. It had been a clever prank.
Revenge should have been sweeter.
Harry decided it was because he had not been involved in the planning process, this time. In fact, he had not been involved at all. He suspected several of the girls were behind the latest edition of the Gryffindor/Slytherin war, because it was not likely any of the boys would have thought of it. If Harry had known, he would certainly have put a stop to it.
And not just because people kept kissing Draco Malfoy.
The hallways were pandemonium. All the Slytherins had sprigs of mistletoe floating over their heads—mistletoe that refused to be banished. Mistletoe that drew everyone within a certain range in for a kiss. Harry had watched in horror as no less than four assorted students (two fourth-year Ravenclaw girls, a sixth year Hufflepuff boy, and Dean Thomas) tried to kiss Malfoy. The girls managed quick pecks before Malfoy's flailing drove them away. Dean Thomas was shoved away with an oath before his lips so much as brushed Malfoy's, but the Ravenclaw boy…
Harry decided the boy was a prat and needed to be hexed regularly. Even though Harry could not remember his name. He was sandy of hair and broad of shoulder, and likely exceedingly smart, of course, and he clearly deserved to die. Not because Malfoy had allowed him in for a kiss, of course. And certainly not because the kiss had lasted far longer than Harry deemed prudent for something that should have been a nasty prank and not to be tolerated. No, the Ravenclaw boy deserved to die because… he had a mean-looking face. Yes, Harry decided. It was the eyes. They looked evil and cold, if a bit glazed after Malfoy's kiss.
Stupid prat. He had probably never been kissed before, not with those evil eyes.
Additional attempts at Malfoy kissing were rebuffed by Malfoy's hastily cast Shield Charm. The other Slytherins quickly followed suit and soon the halls were filled with students bouncing around, ricocheting from the Shield Charms as though caught in a Muggle pinball game.
"Well, that spell certainly backfired," Harry commented to Hermione.
She rolled her eyes. "I had no part in it. Blame Lavender Brown and Romilda Vane. Idiots."
Harry nodded, knowing Hermione would have ensured the spell would work only on selected persons, instead of anyone in range. Dean's embarrassment at the attempt to kiss Malfoy was evident on his face. He coughed and looked sheepishly at Harry, who smirked and asked, "How was it?"
"Sod off," Dean snapped and huffed away, taking care to skirt each Slytherin by a wide margin. Harry figured McGonagall would sort out the spell during breakfast.
Most of the students were making their way in that direction, although the green-clad, mistletoe laden students intentionally hindered their progress. Some of them seemed less than upset, Harry noted. Pansy Parkinson was locking lips with a handsome Hufflepuff boy, whose hands helplessly gripped the sleeves of her robe. He seemed to be holding on for dear life, rather than attempting to extricate himself. To Harry's surprise, Malfoy did not seem bothered by the display.
"Let's go, mate, before the spell catches us," Ron said with his eyes on Pansy Parkinson and her captive. For a moment, he looked wistful, until he caught Hermione's sharp glare piercing him. "We wouldn't want that!" he added quickly.
"No, certainly not," she said huffily and stalked off down the corridor. Ron hurried after her, making sure to give the assorted Slytherins a wide berth. Harry watched them with a grin and started to follow, but his path was blocked.
Harry eyes widened and met wicked silver for only a moment before the spell snared him and practically yanked him forward. He cringed and mentally braced himself, expecting to recoil from Malfoy's Shield Charm and then suffer through a barrage of laughter, but he met no such resistance.
He gave a muffled "oomph" of surprise when his chest collided with Malfoy's. Before he could take a breath, his lips clamped onto Malfoy's and his arms wrapped around the neck of his most annoying enemy.
Harry's eyes opened wide with shock and he stared into Malfoy's half-lidded grey eyes. Only one thought managed to crawl to the surface of his stunned mind. I'm kissing Draco Malfoy.
The unreality of it sustained him for the space of six heartbeats, while the pounding of his heart sounded overly loud in his ears. Their lips pressed together, not moving, barely qualifying as a kiss, more a smashing of lips, really.
But then Malfoy moved. It was a tiny movement, a shift, or a sigh, or possibly a fluid shiver. Whatever it was, it caused Malfoy's lips to shift against Harry's, to leave a ghost of wetness, a mere hint of flavour, compounded by the feel of Malfoy's breath wafting over his face. The combination was electrifying.
More! something inside of Harry screamed, causing his hands to tighten, holding Malfoy in place. His lips moved, pushing forward, parting just enough to pull Malfoy's top lip between his, so that his tongue could brush the edge of it, just for a taste.
A shriek shattered the quiet. Harry jerked away, stared into Malfoy's wide eyes for a single, shocked instant, and then he staggered backward violently. So much so that he stumbled and fell, earning a sharp pain on his right arse cheek. He gaped up at Malfoy, who continued to watch him while the screaming seemed to go on and on.
At last the sound penetrated the stasis that seemed to envelop them both, drawing their attention. It was Pansy Parkinson, pointing at them and fairly howling with laughter.
"Potter!" she screamed. "Potter the Poufter!"
Harry frowned and his glance slid back to Malfoy, whose eyes narrowed at Parkinson as his lips twisted into something that looked like annoyance. Harry was perplexed for a moment, expecting Malfoy to join the hilarity and ridicule.
Harry sprang to his feet, not rubbing his wounded posterior with effort. He sneered at Parkinson, bypassed Malfoy without a word, and walked quickly to the Great Hall. His confusion grew with every step. Why had Malfoy cancelled the Shield Charm? Was it more humiliating to allow Harry to kiss him?
His face flamed at the memory of the name-calling. He supposed it was degrading. And yet, far worse than the fact that he had kissed Draco Malfoy was the knowledge that he had enjoyed it.