Characters/Pairings: Harry/Draco, Ron/Pansy
Warning(s): EWE, fluff!, a few naughty words, a woeful lack of Christmas smut, cock-blocking ala Ron Weasley, and your basic Christmas crack.
Word Count: ~12,400 (I'm completely incapable of writing anything short for this fandom, oh well.)
Disclaimer: I make no profit from nor do I claim any ownership of the characters and situations discussed in this story; they belong to JK Rowling and Co.
Notes: So this is brought to you by my intense love for Christmas, elves, and Draco Malfoy, among other things. It is in no way associated with any of my other fics, and should be read as a bit of Christmas fun. Happy Holidays, and please drop me some reviews! Those are the best presents. *snuggles you guys*
An Elf and Three Wishes
"Merry almost-Christmas, Draco!" Potter calls, poking his head into Draco's office and grinning one of his bright, idiotic grins. Draco looks up, carefully raises an eyebrow in what he knows looks like disdain, and recalls a Muggle film he had heard the girls talking about in the break room.
"Bah hambug," he answers mildly, leveling Potter with a please go away look. Instead of recoiling in hurt and anger (perhaps he hadn't snarled it enough, Draco muses, sighing inwardly at another botched insult attempt. Potter really has gotten good at messing up Draco's game lately), Potter simply groans, throwing his head back carelessly in a fashion that is completely inappropriate for the workplace, honestly. He's compiling a mental speech about keeping lewd head gestures in the bedroom almost immediately, but that doesn't stop Potter.
"Oh no, Draco, you didn't even get it right! It's bah humbug; if you're going to be a Scrooge, you have to work a little harder." He clucks in fake disapproval, still beaming in that stupid I'm a total moron way, and Draco forgets the speech because his mind is flooded with annoyance and arous—no, just annoyance. And that grin is not cute. "Really, it's like your heart's not even in it anymore." He waggles his eyebrows, and Draco's hand twitches for his wand before he can quite stop it.
"Potter," Draco says slowly, enjoying the flash of annoyance at the last name thing. He's made it a point to call everyone in the Department of Magical Games and Sports by their first names except Potter, just because he knows it bugs him. "Is there a point to this visit, or this just another one of those times when you stand awkwardly in my doorway, waiting for me to invite you in when you know I'm not going to, making asinine small talk that I deliberately avoid the break room for?"
Potter just chuckles, annoyance gone—sometimes it's like he enjoys Draco's tongue lashings. What a freak. He steps the rest of the way into the smallish office and looks around with that ridiculous, phony impressed look he has every time he acknowledges Draco's promotion; obviously, he's seething with jealousy inside that Draco had managed to score an office, as opposed to the cubicle Potter claims to be perfectly happy with.
"Yes, there's a point," Potter tells him, dropping himself into one of the chairs in front of Draco's desk without being asked. Draco watches the lazy sprawl of his muscular limbs and curls his lip in—in disgust. Definitely disgust. He blinks when one muscular limb in question reaches into the pocket of his robes and produces a sparkly green card shaped like a—
"Potter, you truly are a dork," Draco moans, accepting the Christmas tree-shaped card and fighting valiantly to keep an amused smile off his face. He opens the card and snorts when a small pile of silvery, glittery fairy dust falls out to land on top of his desk. He looks up to raise another eyebrow at the brunet fool sitting across from him. "And you're really the gayest straight man ever."
For the first time during the visit, Potter frowns, brows drawing together. "Gayest straight man? What do you—?"
"And isn't this a little early?" Draco interrupts, not in the mood to hear Potter waxing poetic about the joys of heterosexuality. He waves the card around, not needing to look closer to know it's an invitation to Potter's annual Christmas Eve bash—he's gotten one every year for the three years he's worked with Potter, everyone in the office has. He sniffs when a last puff of fairy dust manages to waft up his nose. Potter shakes his head a little and somehow screws the determined grin back on his face.
"It's the second week of December—Hermione says it's late," Potter tells him with a firm nod. "Besides, I wanted to catch you early, so you won't be able to make up any excuses or make other plans. You're going this year, Draco Malfoy, even if I have to get Ron up here to cuff you and bring you in." Potter's eyes are sparkling, and for some reason it makes Draco shiver slightly. Must be a chill. He huffs a bit and glares down at the little fairy dust pile.
"We'll have to see; the holidays are a very busy time for me, you know. My parents—"
"Will be in Aruba, I asked Pansy," Potter interrupts triumphantly. Draco glares harder.
"Yes, well, Aunt Andromeda—"
"You're going to Grimmauld Place on Christmas Day, not Christmas Eve. I know because I'm going, too."
"Well, Daphne and Theo—"
"Will be at the party," Potter finishes, and now the grin changes. It is no longer mischievous or idiotic—it's honeyed and slow, almost lascivious on any other face, and Draco swallows hard and fights back another little shiver. If he didn't know any better, he'd say that Potter is trying to flirt, but that's ridiculous—Potter is as straight as a board. The only reason he never dates is because he's pining after that Weasley girl, who, for some reason, had let Potter get away some time after they all left Hogwarts. Just more proof, in Draco's opinion, that Weasleys are a species of extremely low intelligence.
"You're stalking me," Draco accuses hotly, because really, if he's started ranting mentally on how Ginny Weasley is such an idiot for letting Potter go, then righteous indignation is his last weapon.
Potter cocks his head to the side, as if considering. "Yes," he says promptly. "If that's what you want." For a second, he almost sounds frustrated, but by now Draco is too flustered to puzzle that out, so instead he flaps his hands at Potter in an attempt to start shooing him towards the door.
"Yes, yes, sure, it's what every boy dreams of. Now go on, Potter, I have work to do, I'll send you the response to your little fairy invitation when I decide—"
"You're coming," Potter informs him commandingly, and dear heavens, Draco really is going to have to do something about the Heating Charms in that office, because he's shivering again. Draco waves his hands a bit more frantically and, chuckling but still looking at him piercingly, Potter stands up and waves back. "I mean it, Draco, I won't take no for an answer."
"Merlin preserve us from Gryffindors, fine," Draco sighs, already paging through fictional magical diseases he can pretend to contract. Potter glares at him pointedly.
"And if you suddenly fall ill, I'll expect a Healer's note from St. Mungo's—"
"Fine," Draco retorts, deciding he'll just ask Theo—
"—from someone that isn't Theo." Potter jerks two fingers towards his bespectacled eyes and then points them at Draco, all I'm on to you, and he can't help but let out a small laugh over more dorkish behavior. Potter's grin widens, and he recalls the prat telling him that he liked Draco's laugh, another decidedly un-straight moment in their strange little almost-friendship. In any case, Draco stops laughing and looks at Potter sternly, until he bows exaggeratedly and, still beaming, backs towards the door.
"Don't work too late," Potter calls out, and Draco rolls his eyes.
"Yes, Mum." And so, to be contrary, he stays working long past the time when everyone else starts heading home, and plans to blame any exhaustion tomorrow on Potter.
Christmas and Potter go well together, Draco muses tiredly later that night, yawning over figures and budget proposals as all the lights in the rest of the department start to go out. Draco treats them with the same sort of reluctance and wariness—Christmas is just another social obligation to him, and Potter is another stubbornly friendly complication that he can't make sense of. Things were much simpler when he could call Potter an enemy, when he'd wanted to maim Potter much more than he wanted to have sex with him.
Not that he wants to have sex with him, of course. Definitely not.
Rolling his eyes again at the stupid invitation, Draco drops it into a drawer and shuts it pointedly. The party is another stupid complication—why would Draco want to spend a night with a bunch of loud, drunken Gryffindors who only tolerate him for Potter's sake? And Potter, with his inexplicable good will and insistent friendship—why does he want him there so badly? It just doesn't make much sense to Draco.
He rubs his fingers against his temples and then decides he's made enough of a point and stayed long enough—perhaps Potter will scold him tomorrow about the dark circles under his eyes; he finds Potter's mother hen voice quite amusing.
Draco stands up wearily and bemoans the lack of a Floo access in his office when he hears muffled thumps in the outer offices. Really not in the mood to deal with anyone's cheerful holiday greetings, he pulls on his overcoat and flips the collar up to cover his face, moving swiftly towards the lifts.
The thumps are louder as he moves further into the maze of cubicles, and even though he's sternly telling himself not to bother looking, his damnable curiosity gets the better of him and he peeks around his collar. The shapes of the desks and cubicles are shadowed in the dark of the department, and he can barely make out a large, round figure peering at a nameplate over one desk, then shaking his head and moving on to the next one.
Draco frowns, stopping for a minute as he wonders who the man is—no one who works here is that overweight, and why would they be wandering around in the dark, anyway? He shakes his head and tells himself not my problem and starts forward again, shuffling faster—if his department is being robbed, they'll just have to deal with it in the morning, he's not going to hang around for Weasley and his merry band of Aurors to come barging in.
His moment of stillness costs him, though—before he can get much further, the man has looked up and given a loud, jolly shout of delight. "You there!" he practically bellows, large belly heaving with it. Draco shakes his head again and keeps going, quickening his pace.
There is no crack of Apparition, but somehow the man appears right behind Draco, grabbing his arm in thick, leather-gloved fingers. Draco's eyes widen and he snaps his wand into his hand, but before he can whirl around and hex the intruder, the man is throwing an arm over his shoulder and squeezing slightly.
"Draco Malfoy, just the boy I was looking for!" he cries, and his squinty eyes are lit up with delight behind glasses. Draco gapes at him, wondering if it's just his luck to encounter the most cheerful thief in existence, and the man goes on. "Ah, so you've got an office now, yeah? Wonderful, I was worried you'd been sacked when I couldn't find your desk!"
"Excuse me," Draco says tightly, trying to shrug away from the arm futilely. The limb is thick and heavy and obviously stubborn; he turns and gets a good look at his assailant and groans inwardly. This must be some sort of prank, he realizes, recognizing the red and white suit and bushy white beard. "Er—Father Christmas, you're rather early, aren't you?" he continues, sneering.
"Ho ho ho!" the man crows, right on cue, and Draco rolls his eyes and tries unsuccessfully to break away again. "It's never too early to spread Christmas spirit, my boy, and my elves tell me you're in dire need this year!"
Draco forgets that this is a prank as soon as the implication hits that he's in dire need of anything. "That's preposterous!" he snarls, twisting in the fat man's hold. "I am full of Christmas spirit. Why, I've already decorated my flat!" Well, actually, his mother had come and decorated his flat, nattering on about him and his wretched independence and self-imposed holiday loneliness, but still. It counts.
"Yes, yes, Narcissa did a lovely job," Father Christmas says soothingly, and Draco goes back to gaping, because how could he know that? No one has been in his flat but for his house-elf since it's been decorated, and certainly no one knows that his mother had done the decorating.
"Okay, listen here, Tubbo, I don't know how you've gotten past my wards—"
"Wards can't keep old St. Nick away—I see all," the man tells him, and then his round, cherry red nose wrinkles slightly. "And really, Draco, there's not any reason to resort to fat jokes already. You don't even know why I'm here yet."
Draco finally wrenches himself away, glaring fiercely at the enormous, red-suited man with his arms folded over his chest. He's already vowing Weasley's comeuppance—and it has to be Weasley behind this, no one else would go to such lengths to bother Draco so thoroughly. He starts picturing a red head mounted over a roaring fireplace with wicked glee but doesn't lose his disgruntled countenance with the man he's faced with. "You already told me—Christmas spirit, blah blah blah, right? I told you, I'm not in dire need of any of that rubbish—I've got family and friends and all I need for Christmas. Go play with your reindeer, you're wasting your time."
"Ah, but Draco, it's very obvious that something's missing," Father Christmas says kindly, his mouth drooping in sympathy. Draco lets out a small sound of frustration and finally pulls his wand.
"You're really starting to annoy me, you know, tell Weasley he can take his stupid prank and—"
"But I know just how to solve your Christmas woes!" the man continues happily, and then he's holding up a leather band of silver bells triumphantly. "I've always found the best way to spread Christmas cheer—"
"—is singing loud for all to hear, yes, I know, Potter made me watch that idiotic movie, too," Draco grumbles. Father Christmas keeps on as if not hearing him.
"—is to give the gift of giving!" he finishes loudly, and before Draco can rip into that utterly unattractive, redundant disaster of a sentence, the man starts shaking the bells wildly. The sound of jingling bells fills the whole office space, so loud there must be some sort of amplification charm, and cringing, Draco covers his ears. It doesn't help, though, and the sound just gets louder, rushing through him from all sides, and he closes his eyes and cries out as he feels it press into him, making him—shrink?
Blinking, he realizes that he's now looking up at Father Christmas, and the bells are fading away. Furthermore, his hands are cupped around ears that are…pointy.
"Bloody buggering fuck!" Draco…squeaks! He squeaks! He's at least a foot shorter and squeaking! Father Christmas wrinkles his nose again and mutters, "Language, Draco, please," but Draco is too busy grabbing at his pointy ears to really care.
"What did you do to me?" he hisses, looking down to see that his overcoat and work robes have been replaced with a long, bright green tunic with a white belt over—bloody hell—red tights. Thankfully, the tunic goes down nearly to his knees, covering the bulge that nonetheless feels very exposed, but then he forgets to be grateful about it when he realizes that his 700 Galleon loafers have been transformed into green slippers with a pointed, protruding tip, on which two tiny, silver bells dangle from the end. He shakes a foot and tries to let out a deranged growl when he jingles, but all that comes out is a strangely low squeak.
"I have turned you into a Christmas elf," Father Christmas tells him, very matter-of-factly. Draco pulls his wand down from where it's still up by one of his pointy ears—noting the presence of some sort of cap that may also have a bell on it, dear God—and points it at the fat man, only to discover that his wand has been turned into a red and white peppermint stick.
"I will kill you, Weasley!" he bellows, and yes, more squeaking ensues, but now he's beyond caring. He calls upon his bottomless reservoir of nasty curses and attempts to turn Father Christmas into a blood-sucking leech, which he then plans to step on, but nothing comes out of the peppermint stick except for a little puff of fairy dust, enraging him further. He draws it up, planning to possibly gouge the man's eye out with it while demanding he return Draco's magic, but he must sense the danger and holds out two placating hands, backing up a bit.
"Now Draco, there aren't any Weasleys here. All of them are well and accounted for in their beds by now, unless they've popped more out since the last time I checked. Honestly, if that family keeps breeding the way they do, they're going to put me right out of the toy-making business for good—oh, my dear boy, you must calm down, you haven't let me explain—"
"EXPLAIN!" Draco thunders, beyond incensed, still brandishing the peppermint stick. "Yes, Father Christmas, please explain why I look like this, and why my magic is gone, and why I shouldn't murder you with what used to be my wand!"
"You have been given a wonderful gift," Father Christmas says, still too mildly.
"Yes, you said, the gift of giving, now—"
"Your magic is not gone, it has only been transformed. Now you have elf magic, the very magic of Christmas, the most powerful magic of all—"
"IT'S A PEPPERMINT STICK!"
"It is simply a tool, an implement; the magic is inside you—"
"And it will be inside you if you don't put me back to rights!"
"I'm afraid I can't do that, Draco. Once the gift has been given, it cannot be returned until all of the requirements have been met." He gazes at Draco fondly, seeming to think the danger has passed, and Draco wonders what would happen if he sharpened the tip of the peppermint stick—would it damage his real wand? "I know you're up to it, Mr. Malfoy."
"I swear, you had better put me back, I am not walking out in public looking like this!"
"Would you like to hear the requirements, Draco?"
"No, because you're going to change me back before I wind up in Azkaban on murder charges!"
"I already explained I can't do that—"
"YOU HAVE TO!"
"FINE!" He drops the peppermint stick down by his side, feeling a sick sort of dismay when he looks at it and thinks of the hawthorn wand it used to be—the wand that Potter had returned back at Hogwarts, back when this weird, not totally unpleasant little friendship had started. He reaches a shaky hand for his hair and groans when he feels that it is, indeed, covered in a small, velvet cap, and glares at Father Christmas pointedly. "Fine, just tell me, so I can do it and this can be over."
"You have to grant three Christmas wishes," Father Christmas says slowly, eyes twinkling. Draco sighs.
"So I'm not an elf, I'm a bloody genie—"
"No, genies are tricksters, con artists," the man chides, shaking his head and reaching down to pat Draco lightly on the shoulder. Draco jerks away. "Elves are paragons of warmth and goodness, and they grant true wishes."
"Then I'm really not cut out for this, if you think I'm any kind of paragon of warmth and goodness," Draco tells him plainly. "I think you're looking for cubicle seven, that's Potter's department."
"I think you underestimate yourself, Draco. You forget that I know who has been naughty or nice this year, and I know what's true in your heart."
"Sure," he responds tiredly, shaking his head and cringing at the jingling this incites. Suddenly, he is entirely too exhausted for this, and all he wants is to go home and get these stupid clothes off and figure this out on his own. Perhaps he can ask Tibby, his house-elf, for help—maybe elf magic is the only way to reverse more elf magic.
"Three Christmas wishes, and obviously, it would be ideal for you to complete this before Christmas, yes, or else they can hardly be called Christmas wishes any longer." He nods firmly at Draco, his own red cap bobbing on top of his head. "I know you can do this, Draco."
"Sure I can," Draco repeats, and he sighs heavily in defeat, wondering if this is all a surreal dream, and starts to hope that he'll wake up tomorrow in his bed and his ears will be back to their wonderful, round perfection. "Look, I'm going home now. You can take your gifts and—"
"You'll appreciate this soon, I promise," Father Christmas tells him, eyes still twinkling, and Draco briefly wonders if this is Dumbledore's ghost, come back to finally haunt him. "I've never gone wrong with my gifts, you know. Take care, Draco. And remember—you have elf magic now. Tap your shoes together, and think of where you want to go, and you'll be there." He raises the bells again, and Draco cringes, but with just a short jingle, Father Christmas disappears, leaving nothing but the echoes of bells behind.
"Rubbish," Draco gripes, looking down at the stupid slippers and deciding that fiend had better reimburse him for his expensive footwear. He starts wearily towards the lifts again, then stops and looks down at the shoes one more time. "No, it couldn't work, there are wards up," he muses to himself, but he feels the achy tiredness in his (now shrunken) bones and decides it can't hurt to try. Gingerly, wincing at the cheerful jingling, he taps the points of the slippers together and then lets out a startled shout when he finds himself immediately in his bedroom.
Huh, he thinks, hurriedly tugging at the ridiculous outfit and stripping it off. Point to the fat man. He pulls off all of the sickeningly bright clothes and, regardless of the chill, throws himself under the covers naked. He lulls himself to sleep by thinking that in the morning, he'll wake up and this whole nightmare will be over.
The next morning, Draco wakes up and he is dressed in the outfit again. He lets out an outraged squeak and nearly falls out of bed when another startled squeak answers him.
"Tibby," Draco groans, looking over at the house-elf standing in the corner of his bedroom, dancing in what might be—yes, bugger, that's definitely glee. The elf lets out a squeal and then launches herself onto the bed, grabbing him into a hug for the first time he's ever known her, the first house-elf hug he's ever received. More outraged squeaking ensues.
"Master Draco is looking like Tibby!" she squeals, bouncing up and down excitedly. Draco groans again and covers his eyes with his hands. "Master is being Tibby's cousin!"
"I am not your bloody cousin—unhand me, elf, or it will be clothes!" he tries to say sternly, but it's hard to sound at all commandeering when your voice is pitched a few octaves too high. So it's not a shock when the elf ignores his command to continue babbling about elven brethren that she has to introduce him to.
"Tibby is so happy!" she concludes, and Draco, having had enough, grabs the peppermint stick from his nightstand and points it at her. The puff of fairy dust is enough to scare her off the bed and back down onto the floor, but it also starts her chattering about his wonderful power and how proud she is of him.
"Tibby!" he shouts, finally quieting her and capturing her full attention. "I need you to do something for me, um, cousin." He eyes himself in the full length mirror across the room and sighs, knowing he can't go anywhere public until he figures this out. "Fire-call my office and tell them I won't be coming in for the next, ah, three days, at least. Tell them I've fallen ill with a nasty flu and I'm completely bedridden." Tibby is only too happy to rush off and do her 'cousin's' bidding, and grumbling, Draco gets out of bed and attempts to take the outfit off again.
Each attempt ends in the same result: another expensive jumper and trouser set winds up being transformed into the green tunic and red tights, and the hat and shoes always somehow find their way back on his head. He stamps his feet angrily, sneering at his ridiculous reflection in the mirror—he's now barely 5 feet tall, and his ears look utterly moronic, and even his nose seems a little pointier. Shaking his head, he shuffles dejectedly into his kitchen, where Tibby is now laying out breakfast for him.
Draco's first instinct is to recoil in disgust at the array of sweet breakfast foods on the table—there are waffles drenched in syrup, covered in what might be small marshmallows, ugh, and cinnamon rolls dripping in icing. Normally, Draco is a very plain eggs and toast type of guy, but after the initial disgust washes over him, he finds his mouth watering at the thought of eating all that sugar. Before he can quite stop himself, he is sitting down and digging into the sickly sweet meal, while Tibby beams at his side.
"Christmas elves be loving sweet foods!" she informs him knowledgeably, and he waves a fork at her in gratitude and continues eating.
Belly full and fortified with plenty of sugar, Draco sets out to the Malfoy Manor library, using the shoe-tapping technique again to slip in and out very discreetly. He grabs all the books he can find on elf magic and brings them back to his flat, and spends the rest of the day poring over them, desperate for a solution, stopping only for a sugary lunch and a sweets-filled dessert-for-dinner.
The next three days continue in the same vein, with Draco refusing to leave the safety of his flat until he can find some kind of way to break this ridiculous enchantment. He begs for Tibby's help and doesn't entirely believe her when she says that there's nothing she can do, but she plies him with homemade chocolate lollipops until she's forgiven. Buzzed on sugar and antsy with frustration, he is angrily pacing his living room towards the end of the third day, jingling all the goddamn way, when there is a sudden pounding on his front door.
Draco gapes at it—his Floo has been blocked from visitors, and the wards on his flat will keep anyone but, apparently, St. Nick himself out, and so he can't imagine who would be stupid enough to bypass all of those obvious pleas to be left alone. The answer occurs to him just as someone begins shouting outside of the door.
"Draco, it's Harry! I'm really worried about you—no one's heard from you since Monday, and your Floo is blocked and you're warded against owls."
Draco lets out a strangled, involuntary squeak and stops pacing, lest Potter hear the jingling. He glares at Tibby to ensure her silence, and the elf gives him a toothy grin but thankfully stays quiet.
Potter continues pounding on the door like some sort of caveman, and he only pauses to shout some more. "Draco, please answer me if you're in there, or I swear I'll break this door down!"
He swears inwardly and then croaks out, squeakily of course, "Ah, no, Potter, I'm fine! Don't worry, perfectly fine! You can leave now!"
There is a pause, in which Draco crosses his fingers and Potter seems to consider. Then he starts pounding again. "Draco, you don't sound right. Let me in!"
"For God's sake, I'm fine! I'm not letting you in! I'm sick, remember, highly contagious."
More quiet. Then, strangely timid, Potter calls, "Well. I bought you soup."
Tibby lets out a delighted squeal; Draco shushes her manically, ignoring the silly, goopy feeling of warmth settling in his belly. "Oh, Potter, that's—I'm sorry, I just don't want to risk it. The office would fall apart without you, and your Weasels would never forgive me for striking you with illness. No, just—thank you for the, ah, the thought—"
"Please let me come in, I don't mind if you get me sick," Potter implores, now sounding slightly whiny. "You sound truly odd, too, and I'm worried. Please let me in, just for my peace of mind."
Draco closes his eyes, heart thumping sort of painfully, and then shakes his head, imagining Potter collapsing into laughter at the sight of him. "N-no, you can't come in, I'm—I'm naked!"
Another pause, this one the heaviest and longest of them all. And then, in a low, slightly strangled voice, Potter calls, "I'm coming in."
"Potter, NO!" Draco shrieks, but it's too late—the wards are shaking with the force of Potter's battering assault, and okay, check that, no one but St. Nick himself and of course Harry freaking Potter can break through. It takes him an embarrassingly short time to ram the door in and fold the wards like a house of cards, and very soon Potter is huffing and puffing with exertion in the middle of Draco's living room, holding a brown paper bag in one hand and gaping dazedly at him.
Draco squeezes his eyes shut again, breathing hard as he feels Potter's piercing gaze sweep all over him. He waits for the peals of laughter, the taunts and jabs, and steels himself when he feels Potter near. But there is only a gentle hand on his arm, and an equally soft touch to one of his pointy ears, so that his eyes flip open in shock to look up at the green eyes, above him now when they're usually a few inches below.
"What—what happened to you?" Potter asks him, eyes shining with concern, and for the first time in quite a while, Draco quickly reassesses his entire opinion of Harry Potter.
He tells him the entire story over mugs of hot chocolate and an evening snack of Tibby-made snickerdoodles, and though Potter does have to stifle laughter at a few parts, he remains attentive and concerned throughout, something Draco is incredibly grateful for. He looks at all of the books that Draco points out and takes him seriously for the entire conversation, and it is only at the end of it that makes his wrong move.
"Well," Potter says thoughtfully, with a small, secret sort of smile on his face. He reaches over on the couch to where Draco has his legs curled under him and playfully flicks one of the bells on Draco's slippers, making the blond scowl. "I think, at this point, you just have to do what he said. Grant three Christmas wishes."
"But how?" Draco whines, putting his head in his hands in dismay. "I don't know what people want for Christmas—is it just a matter of buying presents, or giving to charity, or what?"
"I think it'll have to be a little deeper than that," Potter muses. "I mean, yeah, most people might just want a new broomstick or a decent book, but they also want something more meaningful—success, good health, you know. Love." Potter looks a bit wistful, then, and Draco feels a big chunk of ice in his stomach when he realizes he must be thinking about the Weaselette. He sighs inwardly and calls that girl a moron in his head for the umpteenth time.
"But how am I supposed to bring people success or, bloody hell, love?" he sneers, ignoring Potter's wince. Potter shrugs and flicks the bell again; Draco kicks at him sharply, simply making him laugh.
"I dunno, you have elf magic. You can probably do things that normal wizards can't. And, you know…" He looks down, rubbing at the back of his neck, almost looking bashful. Draco has to bite his bottom lip to keep from smiling. "I'll help, however I can."
Now, no amount of lip biting will keep away the smile; Draco reaches his foot out again and kicks Potter softly on the knee. "Thanks, Potter. You really are too nice for your own good."
Potter looks up, eyes sparkling. "I can be naughty, though, promise."
Draco wrinkles his nose, shuddering. "Ugh, no, no, I don't want to hear about your hetero sexcapades."
The light in Potter's eyes dims, and he looks puzzled. "Hetero?"
"Any ideas on who's left wishing this Christmas?" Draco asks him quickly. "You're more social than I am, you listen to people's problems. I couldn't care less."
Potter leans back, thinking. He munches on a snickerdoodle, and Draco has to force himself not to stare at the way his mouth moves, because honestly, chewing isn't attractive, Draco really needs help. "Well, there's Neville," Potter says slowly, still deep in thought. "You know he runs that florist shop off Diagon, right? Well, one of his winter preservation charms failed, and now mostly everything's ruined—even the seasonal plants are dying because the magic is all out of whack. Maybe you can do something there."
"Yes, but that would involve me leaving this flat," Draco moans, eyeing Harry hopefully. "I was thinking you could, you know, drag people off the street and bring them in here, let me grant their wish and then Obliviate them so they don't remember what I look like."
"Yeah, um, no. That doesn't sound very moral," Potter muses, chuckling a bit. Draco stares at him.
"What's your point?"
"Nasty Slytherins," Potter remarks, nearly sounding fond. Draco makes a face at him that only earns him a snicker. "Look, you're going to have to leave this flat sometime."
Draco sniffs. "I don't see why."
"But it's almost Christmas! You probably still have shopping to do, and fun stuff with Teddy—I thought we were going to take him ice-skating, and to that Christmas village in Hogsmeade, and his school is putting on a little show, you have to go to that!" Potter sounds sort of desperate and obviously outraged on behalf of his godson, and Draco sighs heavily.
"Not looking like this, I'm not. I—I'm short, Potter! I look like a goblin!"
"You look like an elf," Potter corrects, and he reaches up now to flick the bell on Draco's cap. Draco swats at him, and Potter grins. "A very cute elf," he adds, and this time Draco swings and connects his palm with Potter's bicep. "Ow, hey!"
"I look like a freak," Draco says mournfully, looking down at his stupid, bright red tights and feeling ridiculous and humiliated for the hundredth time since this all started. He hears Potter cluck a bit and then warm fingers are under his chin, tipping his head back up to gaze into green eyes once again shining with concern.
"You don't look like a freak, Draco. You could never," he admonishes firmly, and then he smirks slightly. "Honestly, I don't know who could work those tights half as well."
"No, really, there's not a wizard alive with a bum like yours, so why not wear the tights?" Draco feels his face burning and an involuntary grin creeping over his face, and it's still embarrassing but in a sort of warm way, now.
"Shut up." But he doesn't really mean it, he just doesn't want to admit that Potter's words are turning him into a Hufflepuff adolescent.
"If it really bothers you, I can probably buy you a few more days of hiding," Potter sighs finally, and Draco can't help it: he beams gratefully. Potter seems a little dazzled for a minute, before he gives his head a little shake and continues, "I'll make sure the coast is clear for you to get into Neville's shop this Saturday night. I've been meaning to set him up with someone, anyway, so this should be perfect. But you're not gonna get away with this forever; you're not missing out on the entire holiday season just because you're embarrassed to be seen. You're certainly not missing out on my party."
"Yeah, yeah," Draco gripes, truly having no intention of leaving this flat unless it's under the cover of darkness. Well, spending time with Teddy won't be so bad—the six-year-old will probably the only person besides Potter and Tibby who finds Draco's predicament anything but horrifying. Perhaps he can charm the frozen pond on the Manor grounds for the ice-skating—he had actually been looking forward to that, even if he'll never admit it out loud.
Looking at Potter, who looks satisfied and eager to help and all the right things to make pleasure curl in Draco's sugar-filled stomach, he has to wonder if that has more to do with spending time with Teddy, or spending time with his godfather. Then he curses himself, because wondering things like that are probably what got him into this mess.
Potter lets him call in for the rest of the work week and even covers for him, spreading the rumor that he truly is on his deathbed, but he manages to wrangle a promise out of Draco that he won't sit and mope all day long. He follows up this promise with evening visits to Draco's flat, offering him various sweets and more bashful but persistent company. Draco is too charmed and grateful to protest the way he normally does, and he muses that already, this stupid curse is improving at least the Potter aspects of his life.
Damn you, fat man, he thinks begrudgingly, giving the fool another point as he watches Potter lick hot chocolate foam from his top lip. Draco pointedly does not thinking about assisting him with cleaning up the bits at the corner of his mouth with his own tongue. Nope.
Saturday night rolls around fairly quickly, and Draco is anxious to get his first official Christmas wish out of the way, even if he's still entirely unsure about how, exactly, he's going to go about it. All he knows is that Potter shows up just after 9 that night, eyes bright with mischief and excitement, and Draco's heart pounds so much that he doesn't care how he's going to make this happen, he just knows that he is.
"So the coast is clear, Neville locked up the shop and is meeting his date as we speak. I can take the wards down for you, if you'd like."
"No need," Draco says airily, going for impressive and instead just confusing Potter a bit. A confused Potter is an adorable Potter, though, so he really doesn't mind. He holds up his peppermint stick and then lifts one foot to shake it slightly. "Elf magic, remember? I can get us through the wards."
The confusion melts away, and Potter grins. "Brilliant, let's go."
Taking a firm grip on one of Potter's arms, Draco taps his feet together and thinks of Longbottom's quaint little flower shop, and manages not to startle this time when they appear in the center of it. Potter lets out a breathless chuckle, though, and steps a bit closer to Draco.
"I much prefer that to Apparating," he says brightly, and Draco shakes his head.
"Well don't get used to it, we're here to make sure I can't do that anymore, remember?"
Potter deflates, then looks Draco up and down. "You should really keep the tights."
Now that he's here, faced with the—yes, utterly depressing, even Draco feels bad—proof of Longbottom's ruined business, he feels a touch of uncertainty, because he really has no idea what he's doing, the shoe-tapping thing is the only elf magic he's managed to master apart from fairy dust. They are surrounded by the stench of rotting greenery, piles and piles of dying plant life, and it's almost overwhelmingly sad to look at. Even the poinsettias are drooping and dry, and the holly looks brittle and parched, and Draco has no clue of how to fix this.
But Potter is looking at him with such faith, such shining confidence, and Draco's chest aches with it and knows he has to at least try.
So he closes his eyes, raises the peppermint stick, and remembers—his mother's prized Christmas roses blooming in frost, brilliant red poinsettias dotting the snowy Manor grounds, picking holly berries from the bushes in her beloved gardens. He lets the remembered smell of evergreen fill his nose as he pictures the giant tree in the Manor's parlor, the smell of Christmas itself, and realizes that the smell has become real at the same time Potter starts letting out a breathless laugh beside him.
"Draco," he whispers, sounding hushed, reverent. "Look." And Draco opens his eyes to a Christmas in bloom, the smell of fresh flowers of all kinds surrounding them and brightening up the dimness of the closed shop. Draco lets out a small laugh of his own at the ivy snaking all around Longbottom's sales counter, bright and green and fragrant, and moves a bit towards the poinsettias, breathing in deeply.
"Beautiful," he murmurs, looking at the lovely blooms with affection, and he turns back to see Potter bright-eyed and pink-cheeked right next to him, reaching gently down to brush his fingertips against Draco's cheek.
"Yes," Potter breathes out, and his eyes are the color of the ivy leaves, bright and alive, and Draco locks his own with them as Potter leans in, leans down, so close Draco has to suck in an anticipatory breath…
"Bloody hell," comes another voice from the doorway, and the lights in the shop flick on. Draco squeaks and jumps behind Potter, peppermint stick raised in defense, and Potter sighs and turns around to where Ron Weasley is staring around at the shop in wonder.
"Ron!" Potter hisses, obviously annoyed. "I told you to stand guard, not come in and gawk!"
Draco releases the breath he'd been holding and glares up at Potter's reddening neck. "You told him?"
"Malfoy?" Weasley asks, jerking to look over at them. "Is that you? How come you sound so weird?"
"I didn't tell him!" Potter yelps hurriedly, quickly spinning to face Draco. "I didn't—I told him I needed to take care of something for Neville, and that he needed to keep a lookout. I didn't mention you at all, I wouldn't have done that."
"So you did this, Harry?" Weasley continues on like the clueless idiot he is, still gaping all around him. "Man, I know people call you a miracle-worker, but this is a little ridiculous."
"I didn't do it, Draco did!" Potter pipes up, and Draco groans.
"So much for not telling him," he sighs, and Potter shrugs a little helplessly.
"Tell me what?" Weasley asks, and Draco snickers and decides he'll probably be okay—Weasley is entranced by the enormous magical Snapping Sunflowers that have sprung back to life.
"You should get credit, I'm certainly not going to take it," Potter tells him, ignoring Weasley completely, and Draco can't help it—ignoring Weasley, making sure Draco gets credit, it's like Potter knows all the right buttons. He's forgiven nearly instantly, which is truly just embarrassing at this point.
"Well, thanks. I'm not doing this for credit, though," Draco answers, and then he blushes when he realizes how stupidly noble that sounds. Potter is beaming, though, and looks dazed again, and so Draco decides that, forgiven or not, standing this closely to Potter for so long really isn't the best idea. He backs away bit, still angling himself out of Weasley's view, and holds up the peppermint stick. "So, wish one down, two to go. We'll start brainstorming for the next wish tomorrow, yeah?"
"Oh," Potter says, his smile fading. "So, ah, you're heading home, then?"
"Yes," Draco tells him, eyeing Weasley pointedly. The last person he wants to see him like this is Ron Weasley, honestly.
"Oi, Harry, are you done? I'm famished, being a lookout is tough work," Weasley whines, and for once Draco is grateful. Potter sighs and looks back at him dejectedly.
"Yeah, okay, Ron."
"Thanks, Potter," Draco says, and even as Potter calls out a forlorn, "Bye, Draco," he taps his slippers together and reappears back in his bedroom. Maybe Potter likes the tights, Draco muses sort of grumpily, and maybe his arse looks fantastic in them, but they really aren't conducive to hiding erections.
Potter forces him into work that Monday morning, telling him he needs to go in to figure out what the next Christmas wish he has to grant is. With his face burning red enough to nearly match his still-unchangeable tights, Draco reluctantly barricades himself in his office, refusing to allow anyone in and corresponding with the rest of the office in notes passed through Potter.
Potter allows this until Wednesday, when he drags Draco out of the office jingling and jangling in flailing protest to get lunch in Diagon Alley. Everyone stares, and most people giggle, and some people outright guffaw, like that sod Seamus Finnigan. Only a few are brave enough to ask why Draco looks like someone straight from the North Pole, and they all get the same snarled, disgruntled response: "I was hexed."
"I don't see why you were so worried," Potter comments over a lunch of pumpkin bisque (for Potter) and apple turnovers with whipped cream and vanilla ice cream (for Draco). "People are believing the hexed story, and you're certainly selling it with that face you make—yes, see, that one. You'd better be careful or your face will get stuck that way."
Draco considers flicking a dollop of whip at Potter, but then decides it's too precious and eats the dollop instead. "Just shush, Potter. Just because you can wear anything and turn it into a fashion statement—don't scoff, disgusting baggy jumpers were never in until you started popping up in Witch Weekly looking like a hobo—doesn't mean the rest of us are so lucky. I look like a nutter."
"Whatever," Potter dismisses, waving a hand in a way that seems like he copped it off Draco, that thieving bastard. "Anyway, I think I've figured out your second wish recipients. You're gonna set up Ron and that troll you call a best friend."
"Greg?" Draco ponders, forgetting to be offended on his friend's behalf. Really, Draco can call a spade a spade, and he knows what Greg Goyle looks like. "Um, I don't think he swings that way, unless he and Vince had some secrets I didn't know about." Actually, he shudders to think of it, and floods his senses with the sweet taste of apple and sugar to banish the thoughts.
"No, not Goyle, ugh. I'm talking about Parkinson," Potter explains, and only years of enforced table manners lessons from his mother keep him from spitting out his mouthful.
"Are you insane? There is no way I'm gonna subject her to—to your freckled fiend of a future brother-in-law!"
"Future brother-in-law?" Potter repeats, looking perplexed. "What are you—"
"No, I won't do it," Draco continues, waving his fork around rather dramatically, cap jingling lightly with his movements. "Absolutely not—you know, I am starting to think you're just shamelessly exploiting my predicament to help make your silly Gryffindor friends happy—first Longbottom, now Weasley, ugh, what's next? Shall I give Granger a makeover and force her onto Blaise? Never!"
"Hermione would never go for Blaise, and she doesn't need a makeover," Potter defends his friend first, and then he blinks and starts defending himself almost as an afterthought. "And I would never do that, how can you say that? I want to help you, Draco, and I can't help it that the only problems I really pay attention to are my friends'."
"But everyone goes to you with their problems," Draco argues, knowing it's true. He's overheard enough break room pleas for advice and counsel from the sainted Chosen One to know that Potter is really the one everyone wants to grant their Christmas wishes. Draco is the Grinch who will probably laugh at them.
Potter's face reddens, and he looks down at his bisque. "Well, yeah, but it's not like I, um. Pay attention, that much. Uh, I mean—"
But Draco has already started laughing. "What do you mean, you don't pay attention? Oh my God, you don't—you fake it, don't you?"
Potter grins ruefully. "Sort of. I mean—bloody hell, what do I care that Kim from Accounting's husband can't go longer than 20 minutes in bed? That's too much information! And yes, I feel awful that Jason can't afford to send his mum to Morocco for Christmas, but really, what can I do about it, I barely remember his name most of the time. They think I'm some sort of god, that I can fix everything, but I bloody can't—I'm just me. I do what I can, but it's not much when there aren't any Dark Lords around to slay."
Draco huffs, a bit in annoyance and a bit in disbelief . "Oh, come on, you can do more than you realize." He rolls his eyes, because now he sounds like sodding Father Christmas, but now Potter looks a bit hurt.
"Well, thanks, now I feel like a selfish arsehole—"
"I didn't mean it that way," Draco rushes. "I just meant, you know, sometimes just knowing that the Savior is there, listening—or, well, pretending to listen—can do some good. You can do what I do and tell them to sod off and be done with it, but you sit there and pretend, just so you won't hurt their feelings. That's, well, that's way more than you have to do, you know. Don't sell yourself short."
Potter is blinking at him, a slow, pleased smile lighting up his face. "Are you—did you just try to make me feel better?"
Draco scowls, realizing it's true. "Ugh, yes, I did, didn't I? Damn, it must be this elf shit."
Potter laughs. "Maybe you're the one selling yourself short."
"Stuff it, Potter. And no, this elf shit doesn't mean I'm pimping out Pansy to Weasley. It's not happening."
"Oh, come on. He's really not a bad bloke."
"He smells funny."
"You're such an arse."
"She'll eat him alive, and you know it."
"Yeah, but he likes her." At Draco's incredulous stare, Potter nods vigorously. "He does, I swear it! They both go to that club underneath the Leaky, you know the one: The Wicked Wand. The only reason he goes—honestly, it's not his scene—is to try and get some flirting in, but she's never given him the time of day. But a few nudges from you and you know she'll give him a chance."
"But I don't want her to give him a chance. He could never keep up with someone like her!"
"It'll be hilarious to watch him try, though," Potter throws in, and Draco swears inwardly, knowing Potter's got him there. Potter knows it, too, because he starts grinning again. "See? I've invited Ron along on our ice-skating outing with Teddy—he doesn't know Pansy will be there."
"I don't know that Pansy will be there, either."
"Come on, Draco, please? You know I'm right."
"I hate you, Potter."
"You definitely don't."
"Oh, but I do."
"Is that a yes?"
"It definitely is."
Of course it's a yes; Saturday afternoon finds Draco, Potter, Teddy and Weasley at the frozen pond on the Malfoy Manor grounds, waiting for Pansy to come traipsing in fashionably late. He has to admit that Weasley's face when she walks out in swirling silver winter robes and a dainty white hat is utterly priceless, and so is her snarl of disgust when she notices Weasley gawking at her.
"What is going on here, Draco?" she hisses as she laces up her skates, and then she peers at him closely for the first time since arriving. "And why do you look like something out of a Grimm brothers' tale? Are those tights? Is this some weird, role play thing with Potter that is going to give me nightmares?"
"No!" Draco snarls, and then he smirks slightly and sort of despairingly, because Pansy's eyes have snapped back to the Weasel. This might not be as impossible a wish as he had hoped. "It's a long story. And honestly, there's nothing going on—Potter invited his best friend along, so I invited mine. Simple."
"Right," Pansy says crisply, and she still isn't looking at him. Then she grins sort of wickedly. "Fine, then, let's see if he can dodge my Trip Jinxes on ice." She skates purposefully away, leaving Draco to look at his own skates and hope fervently that they won't turn back into silver-belled slippers when he puts them on.
Potter and Teddy are already laughing and twirling on the ice, and Weasley and Pansy are giving each other a wide berth but paying more attention to the other than their skating, and somehow Draco is actually eager to join them, bloody hell. This elf shit really is getting the best of him now, isn't it?
He is happy to note that his ice skates remain ice skates, but for the existence of a tiny silver bell dangling from the high top around each ankle. Draco sighs wearily but skates away anyway, ignoring the faint jingling, and moves to where Potter and Teddy are racing each other across the pond, narrowly avoiding a falling, yelping Weasley and a smirking Pansy.
"I like your costume, Uncle Draco!" Teddy tells him, hair turning bright green to match the tunic, and he grabs Draco's hand tightly with his own small, mitten-covered one. Draco warms slightly in the face of his youth and excitement, and Potter grins and takes Teddy's other hand. The trio skates lazy loops around the pond, Teddy chattering excitedly about his Christmas list.
It's a nice enough scene to get lost in, but he forces himself to remember that today he has a mission, and he looks over at where Pansy is doing figure eights around a Weasley that's once again grounded by one of her Trip Jinxes. He realizes that no one is gonna get anywhere while Pansy still has her wand and pulls out the peppermint stick surreptitiously, closing his eyes and letting Potter occupy Teddy for a minute.
Draco smiles in satisfaction when he feels her wand zoom into his outstretched hand on a puff of fairy dust, and Pansy is too busy taunting Weasley as he valiantly tries to stand back up to notice. He flicks the peppermint stick just slightly and, mid-jeer, Pansy suddenly lets out a small shriek and slips on the ice, falling right into Weasley's steadying arms.
"Um," the redheaded fool stammers. "Need some help, there?"
"I'm fine, Weasel," Pansy barks, flicking dark hair out of her face and glaring up at him, though she hasn't yet let go of his flexing arms.
"No, ah, maybe I should hold on to you, y'know. Just in case," Weasley tries, starting to grin and turning beet red at the same time. Pansy lets out an angry hiss and jerks out of his grasp.
"I do not need you to—ah!" The second she's moved back from him, her feet are flying out from under her again, and Draco can see Potter watching them and grinning out of the corner of his eye. Weasley catches her again, grinning wider, and he gently starts skating with her around the pond, leading her slowly across the ice.
"See, it's okay," he tells her softly, and even though Draco pretty much hates his very marrow, he can still sort of understand why Pansy can't stop gazing up at his wide, blue gaze. "I've got you, I won't let you fall."
"Ridiculous," Pansy huffs breathlessly, but she stays holding on, gripping much too tightly to deny that she wants to, and they never quite move out of each other's personal space again. Potter and Teddy skate up and drag Draco back into motion, and this time it's him in the middle, Potter and Teddy holding his hands on either side, and Potter leans in close to whisper, "You're brilliant at this."
His proud smile keeps that warm feeling rushing through him, and his bark of laughter when Draco flicks the peppermint stick and makes Pansy and Weasley both fall on top of each other nearly makes his heart burst.
"Aunt Pansy and Uncle Ron are pretty bad at this," Teddy muses in a way only a six-year-old could get away with, but that doesn't stop Draco from agreeing wholeheartedly and Potter smacking him lightly in retaliation.
They end the day on the benches around the pond, drinking hot chocolate and sharing sugar cookies from the Malfoy elves (who all throw themselves at Draco's feet, rejoicing his newfound elfdom). Potter Conjures blankets but only creates three, for some reason, and so Teddy curls up in his own and dozes lightly under a Warming Charm while Pansy and Weasley share one and Potter throws half of his over Draco.
"Elf magic sort of protects us against the cold," Draco tells him matter-of-factly, but Potter just rolls his eyes and pulls Draco closer into his side.
"Good, you can warm me up, then."
"You can have more of the blanket—"
"Draco, shut up, please."
Pansy and Weasley are eyeing one another like they'd quite like to start snacking on each other, ew, and so he forces himself to concentrate on Potter's sweet, chocolate-scented breath by his cheek, even though he's not really sure which is more alarming. There is still the issue of the tights, and he really wouldn't like to tent this blanket, and decides that's going to be a problem when Potter throws one arm around him.
"Today was a really great day," Potter murmurs, and Draco nods jerkily, trying to figure out how to wrench himself away without hurting the poor, daft Gryffindor's feelings. He's considering the feet-tapping technique but realizes that would be just as rude, and so he resigns himself to just feeling Potter warm and wonderful right next to him. "Thank you for doing this, Draco."
"J-Just trying to get these wishes down," Draco squeaks, refusing to look Potter in the eye. Potter chuckles softly, shaking his head slightly.
"I don't think so—I think you're enjoying this more than you're letting on."
"M'not," he protests, head beginning to get muddled by the warmth and closeness and the smell of chocolate, ohGod. "It's all just…just…Potter, wait—"
But Potter isn't waiting, he is leaning closer, and his eyes are determined and stubborn again, piercing behind his smudged, foggy glasses. Draco sucks in a breath because it can't be, Potter looks like he means to kiss him, and that's not possible, is it? Potter is straight, Potter belongs to Ginny Weasley, Potter is just a Gryffindor do-gooder obsessed with making friends—
He never finds out for sure, because Weasley interrupts them again. "Oi," he calls from the bench across from them, and Potter swears loudly and jerks to look at him. "Ah, we're gonna, um, take off—"
"Go," Potter snarls tightly, and okay, that does it, the tights are truly useless at hiding him now, and Draco jumps up before Potter can realize.
"I, uh, I should go too," he stutters (actually stutters! Draco is at once appalled with himself). Potter looks at him as though Christmas has just been cancelled, and Draco despairs at having put that face on him but knows there's nothing for it. "I have to, um, start brainstorming the last wish, right? So, yeah, I'm gonna go do that. You can see Teddy home, right?"
Potter nods, shoulder slumped, and Draco quickly claps him on the shoulder, gives Teddy's bright hair a quick ruffle, and taps his feet away.
Later, after a heated session with his hand down those stupid bloody tights, he lays in bed and tries to still his beating heart, wondering which is more terrifying: the idea that he's completely misinterpreted this entire strange friendship with Potter, or the idea that he hasn't.
That night, the ghost of Ginny Weasley comes to him in a dream, telling him to stay away from her man. This is slightly ridiculous, because he knows Ginny Weasley isn't dead, but when he wakes up the next morning, he knows exactly what the last wish is going to be. He's going to grant Potter's Christmas wish, and the Weaslette's as well, and he's going to get them back together.
Because it's obvious, now that he's slept on it and thought of it more. Potter is obviously just confused. He feels spurned by Weasley and is looking for a way to forget, and since Draco just happens to be around, he's using Draco to do it.
There's no way that Potter could truly be interested—those kinds of ridiculous wishes (and Draco isn't stupid enough to deny what he wishes, not after that wank in those tights) never really come true.
Even as he steels himself with this bulletproof logic, he still gets an icy feeling in his gut as he contemplates setting Potter and Ginny up. But nevertheless, he supposes that this is what this whole ordeal is about: selfless gift giving, and he's sure this will be the best gift he's ever given.
He avoids Potter during the next week, dodging him at work and spending most of his time planning out a strategy. Draco knows he can't use the same method he used with Pansy and Weasel—Potter and Ginny are too fairytale sweet for such nasty poking and prodding. Instead, he purchases elaborate gifts and lovely floral arrangements and sends them to Ginny, signing the cards from your Secret Santa in an untidy scrawl he thinks looks like Potter's handwriting. He hurries through the shops at Diagon Alley quickly and discreetly, used to the giggles and stares from work, but is still quick to get angry when mothers stop him and ask him to take a picture with their children.
He regrettably cancels his Hogsmeade outing with Potter and Teddy and skips out on his young cousin's primary school show, and he cringes at the Howler Andromeda sends him but knows it's necessary. Draco can't have any distractions, and knows that Potter can't, either.
On Christmas Eve, Draco is one of the few working, and he relishes the quiet and the lack of Potter-dodging he has to do. He is slightly dreading the party tonight, but knows he has to go to finish this last wish.
He is just finishing up the last work of the day when a courier appears to knock on his door, delivering him a gigantic, stunning arrangement of red and white poinsettias. At first, he's afraid that it's one of Ginny's gifts sent back, but then he reads the card and sighs wistfully at the message.
I'm sorry if I upset you, and I hope you'll accept
these as my apology. I really hope to see you tonight;
I miss you.
Eyes stinging oddly, Draco presses his face into the flowers and breathes in deeply, sighing again. Then he straightens up, hefts the flowers carefully into his arms, and taps his feet to send himself home. He uses the image of those poinsettias—the proof of Harry's pure, near-perfect goodness—to fortify him that night as he sets out to make the most important Christmas wish come true.
The party is well underway by the time Draco pops in, and judging by the redness of Weasley's face and how high up her dress Pansy is letting his hand climb, the alcohol has started flowing freely. Draco isn't in the crowded, festively-decorated living room of Potter's flat for two minutes before the man in question has suddenly wrapped all five feet of Draco into his arms.
"DRACO!" he bellows, loud enough for Draco to note that he's almost as well into the alcohol as Weasley. "You came! Thank you!"
"I said I would, Potter," Draco tells him tightly, pulling away to avoid yet another tented tights problem. He looks around the room and quickly spots the Weaselette standing by Longbottom, talking to him avidly with a beer in her hand, and he smiles faintly. Good.
Potter's own bright smile only dims a little in the face of Draco's inattention, and he takes him by the arm and starts tugging him towards a table laid out with snacks. "Look, Draco, snickerdoodles! And chocolate lollipops! And marshmallows and—and you can dip them in syrup! But don't drink the Butterbeer." He leans in closer, as if sharing a secret, and Draco valiantly fights back a snicker. "Gets elves drunk, you know."
"I know. Er, thank you for, um, thinking of me, but—well, I see Theo, and I really need to ask him something—"
"Wait!" Potter cries, and his Firewhiskey breath is much less pleasant than his hot chocolate breath but is somehow still attractive, damn him. "But—what about the, the you know? The last wish thing? We haven't—"
"It's okay," Draco says gently, swallowing hard. "I'm working on it. You've been amazing, Potter, but I've got it from here."
"Okay," Potter sighs, smile finally fading all the way. Now he looks like a kicked puppy, and Draco can't stand that. He escapes before he can let it get to him too much, ushering Potter towards a cross-looking Granger, and scurries over to Theo and Daphne for protection.
He eyes Potter's flat some more as he listens to Theo and Daphne spew boring nonsense about their irritating families, finally finding a good, central spot on the ceiling that will work nicely for his plan. Drawing his peppermint stick, he flicks it at the spot, popping a dangling sprig of mistletoe into existence and hanging it there.
"Why are you waving around a peppermint stick?" Theo asks him in a bored, stiff voice. "And why are you still hexed to look like an escapee from Santa's workshop?"
"It's a long story," Draco sighs, watching various couples get drawn under the mistletoe and laugh in drunken delight as they swap kisses. Potter is looking between the mistletoe and Draco intensely, and one of his slow honeyed grins is creeping onto his face as he moves towards it casually. Draco grins inwardly, if tightly, because now Potter's making his job easier.
Yes, but that's not what you want a silly little voice in his head tells him quietly. Draco shakes his head and dismisses the voice, because the voice is stupid. Even if it is right.
Because this isn't about him, Draco realizes. Well, it's sort of about not looking like an escapee from Santa's workshop anymore, but really it's about Potter. It's about keeping those smiles on Potter's face, and making those eyes sparkle, about making all the do-gooder stuff worth it. Because if anyone deserves to have their Christmas wish granted, it's definitely Harry Potter, and not just because he's Harry Potter. It's also because he's Draco Malfoy, and he's the one in charge of who's getting these wishes granted, and there really no one he wants to see happy more than Potter.
And that's ridiculous and sort of depressing, but it doesn't matter. It's the truth. And maybe that's why he'd been the one picked for this—maybe Father Christmas had known more than he'd let on.
He's decided to wait until nearly midnight for maximum dramatic effect, but Potter is already under the mistletoe, hanging out under there like some sort of pervert desperate for action or something, but whatever. Again, he's making this easier. A few partygoers go up to him but he only allows them quick pecks, keeping his gaze around at the rest of the room.
Draco knows who he's waiting for, and decides not to let him wait any longer—he pulls the peppermint stick out again and points it at Potter's Christmas tree, sagging with ornaments both sentimental and sparkly. He Summons an ornament that looks like a fluttering Golden Snitch on a puff of fairy dust and then directs it zooming towards Ginny Weasley, who hasn't moved from Longbottom's side. She laughs at the sight of it and reaches out to catch it, but it jerks out of her reach and dances between her fingers, encouraging her to follow.
Smiling brightly, she follows the Snitch to the center of the room where Potter waits under the mistletoe. He shifts a bit awkwardly when he sees her near but Draco chalks that up to nerves and holds his breath, watching them. His stomach is filling with ice again but he ignores it completely, watching as the Snitch flits between them and they lean into each other, smiling and gazing adoringly into each other's eyes.
Go on, he thinks, even as his silly elven heart twists painfully in his chest. Kiss her, stupid.
Potter kisses her, and Draco sighs and closes his eyes, unable to watch.
He waits to feel his bones start growing again, and he reaches up to feel his pointy ears round out. He waits for the jingling to go away when he shakes, for the tunic and tights to turn back into his clothes.
But nothing happens—his ears remain pointy, he can still feel the tights snug over his bottom half, and when he lets out a small sound of muted frustration, it comes out in a squeak.
"Uh, Draco, dear. Are you alright?" Daphne asks worriedly, and Draco snaps his eyes open to glare at her.
"No," he squeaks hoarsely, feeling rage and despair run through him. It hadn't worked—that lying fat bastard—and now he'll look like this forever. At least Tibby will be happy, he thinks, and then he sort of wants to cry a little. He turns to look over at the two who have failed him.
Except Potter and Ginny aren't still in the middle of the room—only Potter is there, alone and staring right at Draco with the Snitch still fluttering around his head. His face tightens, and he pulls his wand and points it at the Snitch, sending it zooming across the room—right in front of Draco's face.
On instinct, Draco reaches out to grab it, but it flits straight out of his grasp. Unthinkingly, Draco follows it to Potter, who is waving his wand again, this time to Conjure a…small stepstool.
"What are you doing?" Draco squeaks, tearing his gaze away from the Snitch to stare up at Potter. The brunet ignores him and instead reaches out to grasp Draco's arms and heave him up onto the stool.
"Helping you with the third wish," Potter tells him, grinning slowly. Draco swallows and looks at him, now on even ground, and can't quite wrap his head around it.
"I think I should make this clearer, before you make any more hetero mistakes," Potter says, smoothly cutting him off. Draco gapes at him until Potter's smile widens. "I'm as queer as a Quaffle," he continues very firmly, and Draco shakes his head a little, slightly dazed.
"But—I mean, how queer are Quaffles? I never thought they were anything less than thoroughly heterosexual."
"They're queer enough to have mad, inescapable crushes on adorable, clueless little elves," Potter answers without missing a beat, and Draco's mind races: crush, clueless, little.
"I am not little, I'm taller than you!" Draco whines, and Potter throws his head back and laughs out loud.
"Yes, you will be, soon," he promises. "In about thirty seconds, I reckon."
"I don't—" Draco starts, because he still doesn't fully understand, and really, this elf shit must have truly addled him to make him so slow suddenly. But he can only start the plea for understanding, because then Potter is kissing him through the rest of it, slow and deep and sweet, so warm and satisfying that he feels it melt the ice in his belly and unfreeze the heart in his chest.
Potter prods his tongue gently against Draco's bottom lip and Draco opens without a question, kissing him back with all the fervor of a hundred Christmas wishes come true at once. The sound of bells rushes through his ears, loud but stunningly beautiful, and he only registers his clothes changing and his bones growing because soon he is growing too tall to reach Potter's warm, kiss-swollen mouth. He blinks down at him, dizzy for a second, and then slowly reaches up for his ears.
"My ears," Draco murmurs, feeling their wonderful, returned roundness. Potter smiles up at him but grabs him around the middle sort of roughly.
"Yes, yes, your ears look beautiful, get down here," and he's being tugged off the stepstool and into Potter's arms and snogged senseless. This time it's Potter reaching and Draco smiles into the kiss, satisfied to have his height back, but there isn't much time to think on it because he's getting the snog of his life and nothing else really matters as much as that.
They're ignoring the rest of the party until their normal interruption comes around: Weasley is shouting at them to get a room already. Potter pulls back and blushes slightly, looking guiltily over at his best friend, but Draco has had enough of interruptions and points his now restored hawthorn wand over at the Weasel.
Before he can do anything, though, more jingling bells fill the room, and an echoed, "Ho ho ho!" has everyone jumping. And then Draco is no longer looking at Ron Weasley, but rather an angry, red-bearded, potato-faced gnome with a multitude of freckles and a propensity for swearing like a sailor. The partygoers shriek with laughter and Pansy rushes to grab her gnome boyfriend up into her arms.
Draco grins brilliantly, looks briefly up at the ceiling, and mouths thanks, fat man, before kissing Potter's laughing mouth again.
"Merry Christmas, Draco," Harry whispers against his cheek, and Draco fits his face into his neck and mumbles it reverently back.