Author: Artemis (artemis1000@gmx.net)
Disclaimer: Harry Potter, plot and all her characters belong to JKR and her publishing companies, which's names I don't know. No copyright infringement intended. Don't bother suing, my "fortune" isn't worth the trouble. I only own the idea to this story.
Timeline: In their fifth year, 1995/1996
Rating: PG-13, a few harsh expletives
Chapter: 8/15
Pairings: Draco/Harry, a bit Blaise Zabini/Neville
Summary: It's Christmas at Hogwarts Draco fights with books and Snuffles, Harry with his snakes and there will also be some of the kissing that you readers had to wait for so long. I can tell you, you're gonna love the second part of this chapter, finally a teeny-weeny bit of fluff!
Author's notes: Now, this has taken me almost a year, guess that's a record. If it hadn't been for a dear reader who has motivated me to get me queen of laziness to get back to writing on Silver Snake, I probably wouldn't have had this finished for another month or two. What can I say? I'm very sorry that I had forgotten about this story, I had for some time lost interest in Harry Potter and also in this fandom, but I'll try to be a good little writer now (but I won't set myself anymore deadlines after I had promised myself to write a chapter a week and then forgot about it for a year).
Author's notes 2: Now, I didn't got around yet to tying all loose ends up in this chapter and the responds to reviews will also be only in the second because I so badly want to keep the goal I set for myself, to finish this still in May, but I did got around to introducing Lily the snake to you. I'm also planning to start sometime soon… or maybe not, to write in British English which fits better in with Scottish Hogwarts. I learned that in school, then I forgot all about it when I only read/wrote American English over the internet and now I wish I wouldn't have so violently eradicated everything my old English teacher told me. Now I gotta stop, or my author's notes will end up longer than the story.

Silver Snake
By Artemis

Chapter eight: A new perspective – Christmas

Balancing a stack of books in one hand, Draco opened the door with the other and made a belly-landing when he lost his balance tripping over the small step that served as their dorm threshold.

This Tuesday was beyond doubt not his day.

First he slept through their first training session of the day, which he himself had wanted to be at sunrise, then Blaise nagged him some more about Potter, dinner was horrible, next Potter decided they should lend some books about prefect work from the library, and left him to carry the books all by himself and by hand as he'd forgotten his wand, now he's measuring their dorm personally out...

...and Snuffles was chewing on his robes!

"Potter, keep your bloody dog from tearing my best dress robes into pieces!", he yelled.

Draco had just successfully finished the search-and-rescue mission for his wand when Harry stepped out of the bathroom, toothbrush still in his hand.

Immediately processing what's happening, he quickly drew his own wand and yelled, "expelliarmus! Just what do you think you're doing, Malfoy?!", demanded Harry angrily.

"Do you have any idea how expensive these robes were?! I'm going to make you pay me new ones, Potter, just you wait!"

"Gimme a break, will you! You're making a mountain out of a molehill here. I mean, you have so many robes that you won't even notice if there's one more or less. And if this robe was so important to you then you can just send an owl to Madam Malkin and you'll get an identical one in a couple of days."

Draco glared at him. He didn't cared all that much about this robe, but he disliked it greatly when Potter's dog chewed on his robes and wonder boy didn't even bothered to apologize. Draco glanced at Seamus' muggle clock and found out that it's almost time to go and meet Blaise. Ignoring the fuming Harry completely, he fetched his broom and stalked out of the room.

Harry was left to stare stupidly after the other Slytherin. "Well", he said finally to himself, "that was certainly odd."

Sirius had watched the exchange with great interest. The look on the Malfoy boy's face had been worth every moment of the lecture Harry was sure to give him. And he just hadn't been able to help himself when he woke up from his nap and found the obscenely expensive robes laying on the bed without anyone around to stop him...

"Now, Sirius, what were you thinking? God knows what spell Draco would have used on you if I hadn't stopped him in time and you would've been defenceless because if you'd defended yourself he would've known that you're an animagus and then it would have been at the most a matter of hours until the Ministry of Magic and the Death Eaters knew where you are! I don't want to see you endangering yourself like this again, do you hear me?!"

The animagus nodded his head with what he hoped to be a guilty look and let his tail droop.

Neville beamed at his boyfriend and hugged him enthusiastically. "Oh that's so sweet, Blaise, thank you very much indeed!"

"You're welcome." The dark-haired Slytherin stroked a strand of hair out of his face and flashed Neville a wicked smirk. After all they're in public now and his hard-earned bad reputation couldn't be risked, now could it? He held his hand out to Neville and asked, "do you want to accompany me to the Quidditch pitch? I'm supposed to meet Draco there." Blaise smiled when Neville took his hand and fell in step with him. "Ask your grandmother quickly if you are allowed to spend Easter at my place. My parents don't mind me bringing friends along to spend the holidays with us, but they like to have a lot of time to adjust to changes in the routine."

"Is it because…?", Neville trailed with a nervous glance around them off. Slytherins read openly Dark Arts books in the common room and talked about their Death Eater ambitions, provided they didn't believed it to be below them to kneel before a half-blood, but he'd never heard them mention it outside of the safety of the dungeons.

"Yes, because of that, Neville. There have to be made certain changes in the arrangement of our home to accommodate guests."

He nodded his understanding and they continued their walk through Hogwarts maze of corridors in comfortable silence. Neville still didn't knew why the Sorting Hat thought him to be Slytherin material, he thought that of the three new-Slytherins he fit the least, but he's very glad that the Sorting Hat made a mistake. If he hadn't been resorted into Slytherin he would've never gotten to know Blaise, never fallen in love with the would-be dark wizard. And he didn't even wanted to think about that, he'd become such an important part of his life. If Blaise only wouldn't be so determined to become the greatest dark wizard since Salazar Slytherin himself…

"What are you thinking about? Is anything wrong?"

"No, I was just wondering."

"About what?"

"Us. Our futures after Hogwarts. Why I was sorted into Slytherin."

"Our relationship is working well and it will continue to, don't rack your brains about that. We'll see what becomes of our futures when the question is of interest. First we have to survive the last three years in Hogwarts, then we can worry about what professions we are going to learn and what that's going to do to us."

"Yes, but I still don't understand how I of all people could end up in Slytherin."

"I don't see why you make such a big deal about being sorted into Slytherin. All three of you adjusted easily. Neville, you really are a candidate for Slytherin, even if you don't believe it."

Neville still didn't looked convinced. "But why me?"

"You don't have the courage of a Gryffindor or the wisdom of a Ravenclaw, you are loyal like a Hufflepuff, but not diligent and fruity. Of bravery, wisdom, loyalty and ambition, ambition is the one you have the most. Not overly much, but you've still more ambition than bravery or wisdom. You have after all always tried to be good in Potions, though you knew perfectly well you'd never be good with it. You are a pureblood and your parents possessed powerful magic, that's always an advantage if you want to be sorted into Slytherin.. You will be a good Slytherin once our self-confidence and ambition rubs off on you, we can offer you the home Gryffindor couldn't offer you."

Secretly, Neville hoped that Blaise was right and that the Slytherin traits would indeed rub off on him. It would be nice if he'd become strong and proud like the Slytherins, be able to defend himself.

"Seamus has a wicked streak in him. He's cunning and has just enough of a troublemaker in him, he's even ambitious as long as it comes to pranks, though we do need to do something about his definite lack of ambition concerning good grades. We can't have Slytherins getting bad grades, Professor Snape would kill the whole lot of us. Seamus is a mere half-blood, but being half-blood isn't anymore an issue for many years because of our Lord."

Neville winced a bit when Blaise called Voldemort so casually his master. He'd surely never get used to Blaise being a junior Death Eater. "Harry?"

"Harry is constantly standing at a crossroad as parselmouth and Gryffindor heir, whether he'll become the next saviour of the wizard world or the next dark lord." Silently Blaise added he'd rather have Harry become the latter, he'd rather bow down before a decent person like him that the old loony Voldemort. He sighed. Well, you couldn't get everything, you could only try and hope for the best…

"The Gryffindor traits have come easily to him, I don't know him well, but I daresay that some or most of it was even innate. What he lacks are Slytherin traits – regardless what road he'll take he's going to need them. He's the ambition and the ruthlessness as he proved already several times when battling our Lord. And he did tell us that the Sorting Hat already wanted to put him into Slytherin at the first sorting, back then he could sway it, but now he's put into the house he belongs to. Power needs Slytherin and Slytherin is drawn to power, it's fate for him."

Blaise shrugged carelessly. "Or maybe the Sorting Hat just had a malicious day, it sorted many people strangely. I mean, Vincent and Gregory in Gryffindor? That's a good joke, but nothing more!"

"Oh please come finally out from under there, Lily, can't we just handle this like sensible people and snakes?", Harry pleaded with his snake. She regularly hid under Harry's bed when they had to make the monthly check-up with Hagrid.

"Never!"

"Don't make me take drastic measures… You know that I could just levitate you out from down there, but I don't want to make you angry."

"You wouldn't dare!", Lily hissed indignantly and pressed her curled up form tighter against the wall.

"Come here, snakey, come to me", Harry cooed in human tongue and stretched one hand invitingly out. "Good snakey, you're a good snake, come here."

Lily graced Harry only with a sceptical look before she resumed her nap. Her last thought before dozing off was that her master's mind must have cracked under all that pressure with the evil master with that weird name.

With a sigh, Harry gave up and left his snake in peace.

Then he'd just have to go now to Hagrid and tell him that he's going to come another time with Lily. Surely it would be easier to catch her if she believed that he'd given up on trying to take her to the gamekeeper.

His Lily was quite a moody snake who didn't accepted it if things didn't went her way, but she's also very bright, kind and a good listener, so Harry was willing to put up with her stubbornness.

Dumbledore had given the snake to Harry as a belated birthday present when he returned to school this September. He'd Hagrid secretly working on finding Harry a nice little snake for months already, but Harry got no warning.

He only found out when Headmaster Dumbledore unceremoniously thrust the snake cage into his arms…

Of course Harry hadn't been happy at first. He didn't wanted to talk to snakes and he didn't cared much about having the Slytherins animal for a pet either, but Dumbledore had insisted on him keeping Lily, because he thought that fluent parseltongue and experience with snakes would come in handy for the fight against Voldemort and that Harry needed some practice.

And since this had been Dumbledore's order the other Gryffindors hadn't objected either, though they had been just as unhappy as Harry about sharing their dorm room with a snake…

Lily shook Harry out of his reverie as he felt something cold slither up his bare arm underneath his robe sleeve.

"What are you doing here, Lily, didn't you wanted to sleep?", Harry hissed gently, unable to hide his surprise.

"You don't look happy, I came to find out what's wrong."

"I was just thinking. About how I got you as my companion and how I thought that parseltongue might help against Voldemort and it didn't worked out that way. I'd been so optimistic that we could maybe give some Death Eaters snakes who would be spying for us…"

A small snake-chuckle was the answer. "Silly! The Dark Lord knows that you are a parselmouth, of course he would warn his Death Eaters not to allow any new snakes in the room when they're talking business."

"Yes, but…", Harry objected.

But Lily was tired of her master's constant objections and simply slithered out of his robe, clearly signalling that their conversation was over.

Then she made herself comfortable in Harry's opened trunk, going back to sleep.

Only now did Harry recall what he'd been originally trying to do.

Steeling himself for the bite he's likely to earn himself now, Harry determinedly went over to his trunk and scooped the snake up.

Then he quickly put her down in the snake cage and sealed the same magically. "We're going to Hagrid and we're going to do it now, Lily!", he ordered in a stern voice, daring the snake to make his life difficult again.

And so they left the dungeons, Lily hissing obscenities and baring her venom-dripping fangs menacingly and Harry thinking over what he planned to say to Hagrid.

Hagrid was checking on a couple of eggs which he'd found in an abandoned nest in the Forbidden Forest.

The animals were still living, he could sometimes hear noises coming from inside, but it's quite a pain to keep them warm, yet not too warm, without even knowing for sure to what race they were.

When it knocked on the door he quickly put the blanket back over the box with eggs and hurried with a broad smile on his face over to the door.

This could really be only one person…

Potter stood there in his a silver-green robe with Slytherin scarf, snake cage in hand, and nursed his bottom lip nervously. "Hello Hagrid."

"Harry! It's great to see you again! How are you doing?", Hagrid greeted him cheerfully.

Immediately Harry looked a whole lot more at ease. He returned the smile still a bit hesitantly and said, "it's nice to see you, too. For under these circumstances I'm doing fine. But what about you?"

"Oh, couldn't be better!" Immediately Hagrid started telling Harry how he'd found the eggs and which races he might be brooding here, in the meantime he's making a tea for both of them.

"Are we going to see the little ones in Care for Magical Creatures once they've hatched?", Harry asked eagerly.

"Maybe. That depends on how strong a bite they have. Wouldn't want a repeat of the incident with Buckbeak, now would we?"

This made Harry feel immediately uncomfortable again. Draco Malfoy had almost gotten Buckbeak killed, the same Draco Malfoy with whom he'd become friends over the course of the last weeks and whom he'd kissed in the truth or dare game… "Yeah, we wouldn't", he murmured uneasily.

"Slytherin becomes you well, Harry, you look healthier than last time I saw you", Hagrid said good-naturedly. He'd noticed Harry's uneasiness and wanted to show him that he didn't thought of him different, now that he's one of Salazar Slytherin's.

Harry's head shot up in surprise. He blushed a bit and ducked his head again.

"You're such a wimp, Harry!", Lily mocked.

"Thank you, Hagrid. But it's not Slytherin that makes me feel so happy, it's because Snuffles is visiting over the Christmas holidays."

They shared a conspiratorial smile.

"Well then, why don't you drop in here sometime when you walk Snuffles?"

"That's a good idea."

"Heeellloooo? Anyone here still remembers the poor, poor snake kidnapped and dragged to this place of horrors? Let me out of this cage, master, I'm feeling claustrophobic!", Lily whined.

Harry glared at the snake. "You've never before complained about claustrophobia and anyway…", he flashed Lily an evil smirk, "if you are indeed sick with claustrophobia, then we'll have to visit Hagrid and Madame Pomfrey more often, so you can receive proper treatment…"

"Eep!" Lily took cover behind a miniature tree at the back of her magically enlarged snake cage. "Help, help, so help me someone!", Lily hissed as loud as she could. "I'm being tortured!"

The dark-haired Slytherin buried his head in his hands. "Wonderful, now we're going to have dozens of snakes threatening me in a couple of minutes!", he murmured miserably. He'd become a skilled parselmouth thanks to Lily, but not even he would be able to convince so many snakes that he really didn't intended to do any harm to Lily…

"Being troublesome, isn't she, heh?", Hagrid asked with a small smile as he joined Harry again with two cups of tea.

"Troublesome doesn't even comes close to describing it…!"

Hagrid watched Harry amusedly, how he conversed again with Lily in an appeasing tone, obviously trying to hiss some sense into her.

He didn't had much hope that Harry would succeed. Lily was a very pretty animal, but Lily was also the most stubborn snake Hagrid had ever met…

"Oh, please, Lily, can't you be for once sensible? I don't need even more snakes making me trouble, you know?", Harry said wearily.

He took a deep breath to calm his frazzled nerves down and continued his attempts to get back on Lily's good side. "These other snakes you're right now calling will be thinking that I'm trying to kill you and they'll probably bite me. Do you want that to happen, Lily?"

Lily's hisses became a bit less determined, but she didn't stopped, let alone retracted her cries for help.

"Okay, Lily, I'll make you a deal. If you stop calling for help now and tell the other snakes that you aren't actually in danger, then I'll let you sleep in my bed tonight. You always want that, don't you, saying that it's so comfy and warm? You can sleep with me and you won't have to go back to your cage if you don't want to until the next appointment with Hagrid. And of course I also won't take you to Madame Pomfrey or a psychiatrist, because I know very well that you're not claustrophobic."

After Harry had brought Lily back to the dorm and promised to buy a treat for her, he took Sirius for a walk to Hogsmeade.

Or so he said, at least.

In truth, Harry planned to floo from Hogsmeade to Diagon Alley because he urgently needed to buy Christmas presents, with Christmas Day being only five days away..

Harry had gotten the presents for Ron and Hermione already when he went during the summer holidays to Diagon Alley for his school supplies, in a second-hand bookstore in Knockturm Alley he found a very old book about the history of Dark magic that he knew Hermione would love and he ordered nice leather Quidditch gloves for Ron because he's confident that Ron would get onto the Quidditch team this year, he figured that he could get presents for his other roommates in Hogsmeade.

But of course he couldn't possibly guess that he'd need presents for Slytherins…

Which meant another visit to Knockturm Alley, where he would hopefully find presents that would satisfy his rich new friends as well as Sirius.

One day blurred into another.

Draco had his Quidditch players practice each day either from sunrise at half past seven on or from sunset at half past four on, but always for at least eight hours. He insisted on practicing by darkness because he feared their game could last well into the night, and then these hours of flying by darkness would give the Slytherins a great tactical advantage.

The rest of their time the boys spent with visits to Hogsmeade, which Dumbledore had permitted, and visits to Diagon Alley, which Dumbledore didn't knew about.

To the regret of Harry, Neville and Seamus, Draco and Blaise found it most enjoyable to drag the former Gryffindors to Knockturm Alley and give them a scare with the various Dark Arts items you could find there, while they all had a good time hanging around the Quidditch store and picking new toys for their pets.

If they're too exhausted from practice to go either to Hogsmeade or Diagon Alley, the Quidditch players entertained themselves playing games, writing owls with family and friends, guessing what their Christmas presents would be and playing pranks on the students from other Houses who'd been stupid enough to stay, for which the ideas were mostly provided by Sirius

And to Harry's surprise, he found himself enjoying himself. Christmas holidays had often been sad for him when he saw his housemates leaving for a happy Christmas feast with their families and knew that he'd never be able to celebrate Christmas with his parents and possible siblings he might have had.

But this time it's fun, mostly because here he didn't felt like the one freak who didn't had a family to return to, but this time he felt privileged because of Sirius' visit. He could've been spending the holidays with the Weasleys as his friends could have with their parents, but they shared the goal, the ambition, to win the Quidditch match against Ravenclaw. And as good Slytherins, they'd use any means to achieve their ends, just like the Sorting Hat had sung during their sorting ceremony.

And there were even moments when Harry felt as if he had already found a family in Slytherin House. There were times, when the boys huddled together in a corner of the common room with hot chocolate and a pile of sweets from Honeydukes, telling each other funny or scary stories, that Harry experienced a homelike, cosy feeling.

On Sunday morning, Christmas Eve, loud, excited squeals woke the students and the animagus up.

Disgruntled, Draco opened the curtains around his bed and let his gaze wander through the room to find out who he had to curse senseless.

What he found was Seamus, who's balancing on a chair and staring out of the tiny dungeon window, all the time bouncing and squealing excitedly.

"You're a *dead man*, Finnigan!", Draco hissed venomously and fished with one hand around his nightstand for his wand. He's intent on casting Crucio on the damned git for that.

The snakes hissed as well, baring their fangs, for they weren't any more happy about the interruption of their beauty sleep than Draco was, and immediately complained theatrically to Harry.

Seamus looked around and gave an awkward smile. No, he'd no doubt that Draco might just kill him and the very idea of having just angered a bunch of Dark wizards and poisonous snakes made him very, very uneasy. "Sorry?", he asked weakly.

Harry was just as annoyed with Seamus as his roommates, but he didn't wanted Christmas to start with violence. So he asked in a friendly voice, "what's up, Seamus? Something exciting happening out there?"

"It's snowing!", Seamus exclaimed happily.

Blaise quickly crawled out of his bed and hurried over to Seamus. "Really, it is? Let me see it!" The moment that Seamus had obediently stepped down from the chair, he took his place and peeked through the small window.

You couldn't see much from that tiny window, but Blaise could see enough to learn that it's indeed snowing.

"Let's go and have a snowball fight!", Seamus suggested.

Draco closed the curtains around his bed, told the others to do whatever they wanted as long as they're quiet, and tried to get back to sleep.

Harry yawned. "Maybe later? It's just nine and I would like to sleep another hour or two, I'm tired. Someone here", he threw a pointed glare at Draco's bed, "had us have Quidditch training until after midnight."

From behind the closed curtains of Draco's four-poster bed came a muffled protest that Draco only had to practice deep into the night because the idiots were so miserable Quidditch players, which brought a smile to the faces of all his roommates.

"Good to know that the lack of sleep hasn't changed Draco's personality", Harry quipped.

Blaise smirked wickedly. "Well, if you all value your sleep so much, then I'll just go and take a walk through the snow with Seamus and you can join us later." He's sure that this would cause at the very least Neville to give up his resistance and come along.

What Blaise didn't knew, was that Neville and Harry had already followed Draco back into sleep.

The Slytherin gave a pretty pout and crossed his arms in front of his chest. "Well, looks like no one cares", he snapped.

Seamus shrugged carelessly. "Doesn't has to keep us from enjoying the snow, though. We can just dress quickly, fetch a few sandwiches in the Great Hall and then go to the lake. Maybe it's frozen already. Then we could later go and skate on it."

"Draco, give that back to me, you idiot!", Harry yelled through the whole Great Hall.

When the owls arrived, Draco had snatched Harry's mail away from him with an evil cackle and fled to the table farthest away, which happened to be the Gryffindor table.

"Or I'm gonna make you give it back!", Harry added as an afterthought, when he realized that his first yelling probably hadn't been sufficiently menacing.

"Oh, having naughty dreams about me, Harry?", Draco cooed. Since they had slept for so long, they're alone in the Great Hall and the voices carried in the empty room.

"I'll try that curse on you that Blaise has been raving about!"

"You'll have to get me first!", Draco smugly pointed out.

Harry would've best liked to bang Draco's head into the Gryffindor table. "You're so infuriating!"

"And proud of it!"

Neville was at that point snorting with laughter and Sirius regretted earnestly that he's in dog form because he also felt like laughing.

But Harry had become a cunning Slytherin, too, and he certainly wouldn't let Draco get the better of him. Oh no, he knew the Malfoy heir and he also knew what would make Draco the most angry… "Fine, keep it if you like!", Harry said with a wicked smirk.

Draco leaned back and sulked.

Feeling very smug with himself, Harry sauntered lazily over to the Gryffindor table to snatch his mail from Draco's plate.

Harry suddenly found himself noticing that Draco looked cute when he's sulking.

He resolutely banned that unwelcome thought into the very back of his conscious mind and warned his mind to mention that ever again.

Of course that didn't worked out as he'd planned.

As Draco noticed that Harry's eyes had lingered on him just a tad longer than it's normal, he came to the conclusion that the best way to pay Harry back for ruining his game was to start a new game, one which Harry wouldn't be able to shrug off so easily.

A pale hand shot out and fastened itself around Harry's wrist just as he's about to draw back from picking the mail up. "Leaving so soon again?", he purred as a seductive grin was forming on his lips.

Draco caught Harry's gaze and held it, even as he slowly drew Harry closer. He's determined to kiss him and walk away, leaving the Boy Who Lived alone with his confusion.

Nothing more than an inch separated their faces when Harry's mind registered with a jolt what was happening.

He tore himself away from that mesmerizing silver gaze and a moment later also from Draco's grip. With a muttered, "don't make jokes like this", he virtually fled out of the Great Hall.

Fortunately, Harry was already wearing his thick winter robes and a coat because they'd been planning to join Blaise and Seamus directly after breakfast, so nothing could hold him back from taking a walk in the chilling winter air that would hopefully clean his mind.

Three pairs of eyes followed Harry as he hurried out of the Great Hall.

Neville's gaze mirrored his confusion, for he wasn't sure whether Draco had been actually flirting with Harry or just teasing him, he'd have to ask Blaise, he knew Draco so much better than Neville did.

Draco's eyes mirrored at the same time the confusion and the annoyance he's feeling. Confusion, because these few moments when Harry was close had left him dizzy and with a funny feeling in his stomach, annoyance because Harry had just ruined his mind games twice in a row.

But the most intense gaze that followed Harry's every movement was that of Sirius, who's large brown dog eyes had a thoughtful, contemplating look to them.

Sirius felt the urge to follow Harry and talk to him, and he'd been so close to running after him. But he vividly remembered how he'd felt when he's himself a teenager, how much he hated it when other people asked an explanation from him even though he didn't had one himself.

No, Harry would be better off dealing with this on his own.

A thousand thoughts were running through Harry's head as he's padding through the fresh snow.

He didn't knew where he was going or why, only that he needed to get away from the confining castle for a while and sort his thoughts out before he would have to face Draco again.

Of course, it wouldn't be the most drastic thing happening between them, he'd already shared a passionate kiss with Draco during the game of truth or dare, but back then he'd been sure that it's only a game.

He had enjoyed it more than, say, Neville would've kissing Snape, but the rules had been clearly defined back then.

It'd been only a game.

Though things got out of hand afterwards and Harry doubted for a while his true feelings for Draco, he still could find comfort in the knowledge that the kiss had only been part of a game.

But this, this was so completely different.

Draco had actually tried to kiss Harry.

Surely Draco had done it only because he wanted to pay Harry back because Harry had ended his fun with the mail, but already then Draco had been flirting with him.

And even though Harry had little doubt that it had been only yet another game for Draco, it still made him think.

Why would Draco tease him now by means of trying to kiss him when before he'd teased him by throwing dungbombs at him, making his cauldron explode or maybe getting him in trouble with the teachers?

Draco had never before wanted to kiss him for mocking him, before he'd never taken such a thing into consideration.

So that kiss during the truth or dare game must have changed something for Draco as much as it had for Harry.

But what did that meant?

Would Draco try to kiss him again?

Would he then be serious about kissing him or would it be only a game?

And how the heck was Harry supposed to differ the one from the other?

The idea that there might very soon be a time when Harry wouldn't be able to get a grip on himself in time and he would actually let Draco kiss him worried him greatly.

Because if Draco was then again only playing with him, he'd be the greatest joke of the whole school.

Harry was afraid he would lose Ron and Hermione because of one weak moment, without even gaining anything for it. He would kiss Draco, Draco wouldn't be serious and he would lose his friends because they wouldn't be able to understand why Harry had done it, because they would maybe think that Harry had forgotten everything about the long friendship they'd shared and about how Draco Malfoy had always tormented the three of them.

It'd been so close today.

If it'd been just a moment later that he realized that he's about to kiss Draco Malfoy, then it would've been too late, he wouldn't have been able to help himself and then…

The dark-haired boy was finally growing tired of the conversation he's having with himself.

Actually looking at his surroundings for the first time since he'd left Hogwarts, Harry realized that he'd reached the edge of the lake.

Remembering that Seamus and Blaise had left them a note that they would meet the rest of them later at the lake for a snowball fight, Harry decided to search for his friends.

Of course, he'd have to face Draco Malfoy there, but if he made an effort to avoid the boy Draco would only be more smug, he would know that he'd affected Harry more than Harry could ever want.

So he didn't had any other choice but to consider this incident in the Great Hall a game and go on with his life pretending that it didn't made any difference for him.

By the time Harry had found his friends, all twelve Slytherins staying at Hogwarts had gathered for the snowball fight.

Apart from the Quidditch team, there were some muggle-born and half-blood Slytherins who'd stayed because their parents didn't had the money to pay the travel costs for them.

The parents from mainland Europe muggle-borns didn't had much of a choice but to have their children travel the long way to Hogwarts if they wanted for them to attend a wizarding school so renowned that they wouldn't have troubles later getting a job in the wizarding world, with Beauxbatons accepting only students speaking fluidly French and Durmstrang only purebloods.

"Hello", Harry greeted meekly.

"Harry, will you play snowball fight with us?", a tiny first year asked.

The green-eyed Slytherin pretended to ponder the offer, while gathering unnoticed by the girl some snow from a tree. With the speed of a Seeker, he quickly threw the snow at her, saying at the same time, "I will!"

The girl giggled with joy.

Suddenly, a snowball hit Harry in the back.

He whirled around to glare at whoever had thrown the snowball at him and calculate in his head whether it would be worth a try to retaliate, but nobody stood behind him.

"You know, you're an awfully easy target, Harry", Blaise commented from where he's lazily leaning against a tree.

Within minutes, Harry had forgotten about the almost-kiss with Draco.

Unbeknownst to the Slytherins, three people were watching them.

Albus Dumbledore chuckled in delight. "Isn't it wonderful, to see them so happy and playful?", he asked and gave a melancholic sigh as he remembered his own teenage years.

"I still can't see why Mister Potter was sorted into Slytherin", McGonagall complained in a voice that would have been considered whining if someone else had been using it than the stern Transfiguration teacher.

"You'll see, Minerva, you'll see… there is a good reason for everything that happens in the world and I have no doubt that much good will come out of young Harry's resorting", Albus said mysteriously.

Snape snorted at this. "But certainly no good for our chances to win the House Cup."

"Don't judge so quickly, Severus, I think very soon you wouldn't want to miss Harry anymore."

While the Potions Master doubted this greatly, he didn't wanted to be rude and tell his superior frankly what he's really thinking. Which was, that Harry Potter would be invaluable for House Slytherin the very same day that there was a Gryffindor year which wasn't a bunch of obnoxious troublemakers and an insult for Hogwarts.

At the same time Snape was trying to think of more things that were as improbable as Potter doing Slytherin more good than harm, dozens of possibilities were running through Albus Dumbledore's mind

He'd known that the Slytherins weren't cold when they're alone and Harry had confirmed that during their talk when Dumbledore made him Slytherin prefect and Harry had raved about how many friends he'd already made in Slytherin and how much fun he'd there.

But since Tom Riddle had become the most feared man for centuries, Dumbledore had to watch helplessly how the Slytherins isolated themselves the more the other Houses prejudices increased.

That's why he'd pushed the resorting through, now that Voldemort was back in power they needed the Slytherins to open up again if they didn't wanted to lose them to Voldemort. And the only way to make other Houses mingle again with the Slytherins was to force them, hence the resorting.

But Dumbledore had known that different colours on the scarves wouldn't make much of a difference, only if the new Slytherins had a good influence on their housemates and the former Slytherins were changed by their new Houses would the resorting cause a decline in the number of new Death Eaters.

It were events like this carefree snowball fight taking place now that gave him hope.

Talking amiably, a bunch of soaking wet, yet happy, Slytherins rushed through the doors of Hogwarts.

Seamus and Blaise were feeling quite smug and satisfied with themselves.

In the loud buzz of voices you could now and then make excited voices out that they hadn't had that much fun in years or that Slytherin should make from now on a snowball fight every winter holiday, if they could maybe repeat that tomorrow.

Harry was feeling just as happy, but for different reasons.

He's happy for the simple reason that the snowball fight distracted him for a while from worried thoughts about Draco.

If only he'd have known how soon that would change again…

In the time the Slytherins had been having a snowball fight, Dumbledore had the house elves prepare a surprise for this house of outcasts as a silent thanks for accepting their new housemates so effortlessly.

A Christmas tree decorated with green and silver ornaments stood in the common room, mistletoes had been placed over all the doors.

An even greater surprise for the Slytherins was a dining table in the middle of the common room, which's already laid with a green tablecloth and silvery china, the lunch that'd been brought for them consisted mostly of sweet breads, puddings, fruits, cakes and of course much hot chocolate to warm them up.

"Wow!", Harry exclaimed in awe.

The other fifth years were just as surprised and overwhelmed.

"Snape has really outdone himself", Draco commented. He's the only of his year who could still form coherent sentences, since he knew overwhelming Christmas decoration from Malfoy Manor. His mother had a tendency to exaggerate and after she'd managed one year to cram the whole giant manor full with Christmas decoration it's hard to render him speechless.

While everyone else was inspecting the common room and some girl yelled that the dorms had been decorated as well, Harry's gaze lingered on a scroll laying on the table.

Intrigued, Harry went over to the table and unravelled the scroll.

"This isn't from Snape!", he yelled. "It's from Dumbledore!"

Everyone gasped.

"You must be misunderstanding something, Harry, that's impossible! Dumbledore has never done us the tiniest favour and he hates us!", Draco exclaimed, saying aloud what everyone was thinking.

"Well, obviously he doesn't today", Harry said with a small shrug of his shoulders. "This was all organized by him."

What followed was a continuation of the careless, cheerful atmosphere of the snowball fight.

Now that they're eating away from the prying eyes of the other Houses, they finally had the chance to enjoy a meal without having to pretend that they didn't noticed the hateful glares and the gossip aimed at them.

But for Harry and Draco, this also meant more teasing by the snoopy Slytherins Blaise and Seamus.

A big, evil grin on his face, Blaise leant over the table and looked scrutinizing at Draco and Harry, who're sitting next to each other and tried to be as inconspicuous as possible about avoiding each other, which made their avoidance even more suspicious for the young man. "Say, Drake, Harry, a little birdie has been telling me that the two of you had quite the interesting breakfast", Blaise cooed.

Harry had to stifle the urge to groan.

Or bang his head against the table.

"Oh so, and this bird doesn't happens to be Longbottom?", Draco shot back and aimed a vicious glare at Neville.

If looks could kill, Neville would've been dead ten times over by now. So it's understandable that the chubby boy made himself as small and unnoticeable as possible.

"What's up, you old tattletale?! Not in the mood to talk?", he said with a sneer and gave Blaise a disgusted look..

Harry was very familiar with that glint in Draco's eyes from four and a half years of being his enemy. And he knew what it meant.

That he was so close to cursing his best friend into oblivion, preferably with a nice little Avada Kedavra.

"Draco, it might make Blaise even more suspicious if you curse him", Harry hissed and kicked him in the shin as an additional warning.

"Ow!" Draco turned to Harry and scowled at him. "What did I do to warrant that?"

Emerald eyes widened innocently. "What? I didn't do anything."

Blaise chuckled. "That doesn't works with Draco, Harry, he's himself the master of looking like personified innocence." But then that vulture-like look was back in his eyes. "Now, what have you two been whispering about?"

"Nothing", both boys chorused and tried to look innocent and clueless what Blaise was talking about in the first place.

"You can't fool me, pals, just tell me. Were you two whispering about how you can best distract me? Or agree on a lie? Because I *know* there has been something going on in the Great Hall and I know also exactly what happened. I just want to get an explanation out of you because it's so much fun to see you squirm."

"Shut up and eat, Blaise!", Draco told his friend in a threatening tone of voice. He didn't believed that would work with Blaise, it never did, but at least then he could always comfort himself that he'd tried everything he could…

Surprisingly, Blaise indeed returned to eating and didn't uttered a word again about their "incident" during whole lunch.

After lunch, of course…

Draco and Harry tried to flee after lunch directly to the dorm, hoping that Blaise would rather make out with Neville than to continue harassing them.

But as they walked at the same time out of the common room and underneath an archway, Blaise squealed in delight.

"Stop, stop, you two! I think you've forgotten something!"

"God, will he never give it a rest?", Harry groaned.

"What is it now, Blaise? I don't know about you, but I for my part would like to take a nap before Quidditch practice, seeing as you and Seamus woke us up in the middle of the night."

Harry knew that whatever Blaise planned wouldn't be pleasant when a malicious, smug smirk spread over the brown-haired Slytherin's face.

"You know, I have this aunt in the United States and she has told me once about a very interesting custom the muggles there have… when two people meet under a branch of mistletoe, then those two people have to kiss."

Both Harry and Draco groaned.

"Well, kiss already!", Blaise edged them impatiently on.

Harry blushed. It wasn't that Draco wasn't a very attractive boy and that he hadn't enjoyed that kiss he'd shared with Draco during the truth or dare game. But he also didn't wanted to kiss him when there were so many probing eyes on him, he didn't wanted to kiss him in the common room when that would mean they're going to be the hottest gossip tomorrow, maybe already for dinner.

Draco on the other hand, was having more practical thoughts.

It would probably be the easiest way to get rid of Blaise and his constant insinuations about Harry for the rest of the Christmas holidays if he would just kiss Harry Potter. Then they would all have a more enjoyable time and until Blaise would start again with the nonsense, until then he'd have thought of another way to keep his best friend from talking Draco senseless.

Or that was at least what he's telling himself, the reasons with which he excused the temptation he's experiencing to just kiss Harry and give a damn about what the other Slytherins were thinking.

"Come here, Potter, let's get over with this so we can get to bed."

The dark-haired boy nervously wetted his lips as he stepped closer to Draco, so close that their chests were pressed against another and so close that he could feel Draco's hot breath.

Unceremoniously, Draco wrapped his arms around Harry to make sure he wouldn't chicken out and pressed his lips firmly against Harry's, then he slipped his tongue into Harry's mouth, which he'd opened in surprise, and lost himself completely in the kiss.

Blaise looked very satisfied with himself and let his eyes flicker always from the clock to the kissing boys.

He needed to know just how many seconds they'd kissed so he could later bug Draco about it…

After a long, gentle kiss they took both a step back and Harry's eyes were immediately transfixed on the stone step he's standing on.

He still couldn't believe that Draco had done that, Harry had been thinking that Draco was only joking when he asked Harry to step closer, but he should've known better, he'd learned that Draco wasn't one to joke about such things.

With every passing second Harry looked more distraught as a thousand insults his Slytherin housemates might throw at him ran through his head at lightning speed.

Draco for that matter appeared completely calm and unfazed.

He sneered at Blaise and asked mockingly, "well, have had enough of a show, Blaise?"

Said boy was sulking.

He'd been so sure that Draco would lose his cool composure when Blaise forced him to kiss Harry again and after hearing from Neville about that scene during breakfast he hadn't had any doubt that his friends only needed one more little nudge to become a couple.

And yet his plan had barely avoided being a complete disaster.

"You two should go to bed now", he finally ground out. Maybe Harry and Draco would kiss again if they believed no one is looking…

"Thank you so much, mummy Blaise", Draco said sarcastically before he turned around on his heel and stalked to his dorm.

Both Harry and Draco decided in that moment that it would be best if they pretended that this kiss had never happened.

They would act amiably again during dinner and Quidditch practice, tomorrow they'd act like the friends and housemates they're expected to and they would just have to stifle whatever emotional turmoil this kiss had caused, and if they did that only for the sake of keeping their Slytherin housemates from finding out just how much this kiss had indeed affected both boys.

Finally the morning of the 25th had come.

Christmas Day.

The boys slept until ten o'clock, when Harry was woken up from Lily.

She'd relentlessly slithered over his chest and his face, hissed into his ear, until Harry was finally pulled out of sleep and the nice dream he'd been having in which he'd been kissing Draco again.

He opened one eye to glare at the snake. Harry could've sworn that there was a smug smirk on Lily's snake face. "What the bloody hell do you want from me in the middle of the night?!", he asked harshly.

Lily only gave a snake-laugh. "It's not in the middle of the night, silly master. It's daylight."

"And how would you know?"

"The window was tilted, I went to meet my friends."

Harry hadn't even known that Lily had friends among other snakes than those who belonged to his roommates and would later have to tell his snake off for sneaking away without telling him anything, he would've been worried sick if he'd been awake to notice her absence. But right now, Harry was way too excited about Christmas and the presents that meant for him to care.

He gave Lily a fond smile and caressed her head. "Lemme guess… you're hungry?"

"You know me well, master."

The dark-haired boy sat up in bed and opened the curtains just enough to fetch his wand and three blank pieces of parchment from the nightstand. Having thrown the parchments on the floor close to the wall, he knew better than to risk getting into the way of Lily and her breakfast, he transfigured them into dead mice. "Have fun, Lily."

Feeling energetic despite that Draco had again insisted on practice until midnight, Harry blindly grabbed clothes out of his wardrobe, while yelling at his roommates to wake up, and hurried into the bathroom.

Despite that Harry wanted very badly to unwrap his presents, the urge to look presentable when he faced Draco the next time was stronger. He didn't wanted to be all messy and sleepy in front of the boy who made sure that he looked always spick and span.

In record time, the boys had again gathered in their dorm room.

"So… who wants to unpack first?", Harry asked. Of course he wanted to be present when his roommates unpacked his presents, he badly wanted to know if Draco got a Firebolt from his parents, now that Harry couldn't anymore beat him in Quidditch, and if Blaise got the "Mammoth Book of 1001 Dark Curses for Every Occasion" that he drove his roommates crazy raving about it.

Harry was very interested if Blaise got that book because then Harry would also lend it sometime, when Draco got difficult or Snape made his life living hell again.

"I will!", Draco finally volunteered when he saw that no one else would.

All boys immediately gathered around the heap at Draco's bed, Draco had to elbow his way past them to reach his presents.

The first present he opened was one very long, suspiciously in the shape of a broom.

And as Draco ripped the wrapping paper off, a magical one with moving Christmas trees and twinkling stars, there was indeed a broom inside.

A Firebolt with a letter attached to the wooden handle.

"Read it, read the letter!", Blaise urged, his hands moving restlessly as if he'd a mind to rip the letter out of Draco's hands in his curiosity.

"Chill, Blaise, at this rate you'll have a heart attack before we get to your own presents!", Draco said with a sneer.

Dear Draco,

Your mother and me wish you Merry Christmas.

Seeing as young Mister Zabini will surely get to read this letter again before you do, we decided to send you an extra owl with our actual letter to you.

Draco, this is your mummy. Please try not to kill Blaise, okay? He's a sweet boy, he can't help being such a snoop.

Mum
Lucius

Harry snorted with laughter as he read the letter. "Well, Blaise, looks like you got yourself already a reputation…"

Blaise pouted. "It's not like I *wanted* to look through Mister Malfoy's personal things…"

Everyone laughed. "Yeah, sure, Blaise, you just happened to stumble over them", Draco mocked.

Zabini gave him a friendly slap and handed Draco a present in plain wrapping. "Open it, that's mine!"

Draco did as told. When he tore the wrapping off, he almost dropped the present in shock. "Wow! A Hand of Glory? That's so cool! Thank you, Blaise!"

Said boy gave him a cheeky grin. "Yeah, I figured it would come in handy for you and Harry", he said in a serious voice.

He received a glare from Draco and a nervous laugh from Harry for that remark.

The next present to be opened were silver cuff links with green gems from Pansy. In her card she wrote that she'd remembered Draco's whining about having to take care of some of his father's businesses in the muggle world during the holidays and that he never knew what to wear. So when she told her muggle-born mother about that, the lady volunteered to take Pansy to a muggle jewellery store.

While Blaise and Draco were discussing what Crabbe and Goyle would give him, they'd bring the Christmas presents with them when they came back to school, Harry went quietly over to his own bed.

He wanted to open Hermione's and Ron's gifts before the others turned their attention to him since he wanted to avoid teasing.

Harry smiled brightly as he opened the parchment-wrapped gifts from Ron. On top of a Weasley sweater laid a neatly folded poster of the Chuddley Cannons, a pack Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans and a small box of joke candy from Fred and George. "Thank you, Ron!", he whispered and slipped the letter into his robes pocket, just in case Blaise decided he needed to read Harry's mail as well as Draco's.

Next Harry opened the gift from Hermione, which was easily to recognize because Herm naturally used muggle wrapping paper.

The greeting card displaying a Christmas tree said that Hermione wished Harry wasn't too sad about having to stay at Hogwarts over Christmas because he needed to train for the Quidditch game. And that Hermione had found a charm to play magically muggle CDs during one of her long nights in the library, which she would now share with Harry. And so he could directly test the charm, she'd also given him a dozen CDs that she'd learned were the hits this year.

Harry was just hovering with one hand over the stack of presents, having troubles to decide which he should open next, when Seamus noticed that Harry had sneaked off.

"Hey, don't open anything without us!", Seamus exclaimed and hurried over to Harry's side, shortly after followed by the rest of the boys.

The dark-haired boy heaved a sigh. "Well, which do you think I should open next?"

"How about that one, that should be Snape's", Draco suggested, pointing to a present with green, silver-lined wrapping paper. "Let's look if he gave you newbies the same as us."

When he's honest, Harry thought that Draco was going crazy. Why the heck would Snape ever give him a Christmas gift? But his curiosity got the better of him and he heeded Draco's advice.

The gift turned out to be a leather-bound biography of Salazar Slytherin.

And there was a small note attached to the book, bearing Snape's name.

"Snape gives us a Christmas present every year", Blaise explained. "We also get one for our birthdays. He really isn't as bad a Head of House as you think, Harry, he truly cares for us Slytherins."

Harry still wasn't close to believing Blaise, but he decided that he might just give Snape a chance, if he would only actually make an effort to treat him better. He'd to admit that it's kinda nice that Snape had given him a present, he didn't expected that he'd get one, even if the other Slytherins would. "What did you got in the previous years?", Harry asked curiously.

"Oh, in our first year we got a book about the history of House Slytherin, for my last birthday I got new Quidditch gloves, Pansy got a cauldron two years ago that can't melt." With a small laugh and a wink at Neville, Blaise added, "I bet a hundred galleons on Neville getting such a cauldron, too."

"Well, then I'm looking forward to my birthday." There was a large, but rather light box, which Harry decided to open next.

Harry gasped.

He eagerly opened the silky black box with the seal of a very exclusive tailor in Diagon Alley, which was lined from the inside with white velvet.

Inside were new Quidditch robes for Harry, Slytherin robes made of finest materials with a card from Blaise laying on top of it.

"Thank you, Blaise!", he said happily and hugged the teenager. Blaise was grinning at him, returning the hug.

Harry picked up the next present, a small case wrapped in shining silver paper.

"Hey, what's that?"

"Glasses", Draco said matter-of-factly.

"Yours?", Harry rather stated than asked. He's now all the more curious what Draco would give him, if Draco would give him a gift that wouldn't be either humiliating or cheap.

Yes, there were indeed new glasses in the case, with a nice frame of real silver.

"Thank you, Draco, they're very nice."

"Oh Harry, you're so lucky!", Blaise gushed. "These are like the perfect glasses! My parents gave me for birthday the sunglasses variant of those and I wouldn't ever want to miss them, when it's sunny I wear them even away from the Quidditch pitch!"

"I don't understand a word of what you're talking about, Blaise", Harry said, his voice laced with fond amusement. With every day that he spent with Blaise the self-appointed future Death Eater showed more and more of his real personality, which turned to Harry's surprise out to be actually quite fruity, and Harry enjoyed watching how Blaise's trust in him increased.

Even if that did mean that Blaise also became more and more annoying…

"These are Quidditch glasses, the glass won't ever splinter or break and the frame will never bend, even if you throw it from the Astronomy Tower. The frame will adjust perfectly to your head so the glasses will never slip or fall down, the glass will also adjust to your eyesight and to the illumination. If it's a bright day the glasses will protect you from the sun and when it's dark they'll be all clear to give you a good view."

"Cool!" Harry leant over to give Draco a hug as well. Both boys felt rather awkward, this wasn't like the friendly hug between pals he'd shared with Blaise and they're both aware of it. But they couldn't show that the kiss had affected them, then they would be teased mercilessly by their friends. Make that even more mercilessly, because already now Blaise and Seamus were all the time nagging them to kiss again.

Draco stayed stiff, feeling just as awkward and uncomfortable as Harry, somewhat glad when Harry drew back. But strangely, Draco also felt some remorse when Harry's body warmth left him.

"Let's unpack the rest of your presents, Harry, and then I want to look at mine!", Seamus urged them on.

After unpacking all presents, Slytherin House appointed Harry and Draco owl boys because those two were the ones who insisted that not everyone had to make the walk to the owlery just to send off the thank you-owls to families and friends.

They walked in uncomfortable silence down the dungeon hallways, both boys blushing and staring at the ground beneath their feet as if it's the most interesting thing they'd ever seen.

Now that they're away from the prying eyes of their friends, roommates and housemates, they could finally let the fake casualness fall off and give away just how nervous they felt in the other boys's presence.

Just as Harry set one foot onto the first step of the narrow staircase that would lead them up to the ground level of Hogwarts, he collided with Draco, who'd attempted to climb up the stairs at the same time as him.

In shock they dropped the each fifteen parchments they're holding.

Draco groaned inwardly, now he'd have to spend even more time with Potter because of the other boy's stupidity. "Couldn't you have watched where you're going, Potter?!", he snapped.

Harry was feeling a pang of disappointment upon hearing Draco call him by his surname again. In an unspoken agreement they'd started to call themselves by their first names and Harry had learned that he actually liked that. Now he aimed a glare and a scowl at the blond boy. "Why didn't *you* watched out, Malfoy?!"

A heavy sigh left him. "Let's not start this again, Harry, I don't need an argument with you right now. Oh, and by the way, thank you for your present. Let's just pick up the scrolls and get them to the owlery so we can finally get to lunch."

The ex-Gryffindor nodded in mute agreement and sat down on the cold stone floor to start the arduous task of picking up the countless scrolls which had rolled all over the long dungeon hallway and into some narrow passages..

Uneasy silence descended again on them.

They'd gathered up half of the scrolls, when Draco looked up from his task, waiting for Harry to look up and catch his eye. When the emerald-eyed boy did, Draco gave him a wry half-smile. "I guess we should stay away from mistletoes from now on?"

"Yeah, we probably should", Harry said in a voice that sounded almost regretful. As soon as he realized that, he immediately wanted to kick himself. How the hell could he insinuate that he just maybe wanted to kiss Draco again, surely the sly Malfoy would mercilessly tease him for his slip for the rest of the term.

But strangely enough, Harry also realized that the thought of kissing Draco again didn't repulsed him. It's a pleasant thought and a part of his mind pointed out that it wouldn't mind having this thought become real.

Immediately, Harry blushed furiously and ducked his head.

Draco grinned a bit upon noting Harry's sudden embarrassment, and guessing correctly the cause for it. "We don't have to, though…", he added.

Acting on pure impulse and telling common sense to go screw itself, Draco stood up, walked the few steps over to Harry's position leaning against a wall, and sat down again in front of him.

Harry looked up, the surprise and confusion evident in his eyes. He searched for mocking or only the faintest trace of amusement in Draco's grey eyes, but found none. Only an unfathomable, intense gaze that burned itself into his memory.

The pale boy raised one hand to Harry's face, running his thumb over the cheekbone. When Harry didn't flinched or yelled at him, only looked curiously at him, Draco slowly moved his face closer to Harry's, giving him sufficiently time to make Draco stop if only he wanted to, and kissed him.

At first Harry was numbed, not from shock but from surprise. He wouldn't have ever in this life or any other expected Draco Malfoy to kiss him out of his free will, this was an idea that had been so far reserved for daydreams and dreams that left him confused and somewhat sad that the reality would always be a harsh disappointment compared to those dreams, because Draco Malfoy surely would never accept him, let alone kiss him..

But here the very same Slytherin was, doing exactly what Harry had thought impossible.

One couldn't blame him for being paralysed with shock.

But finally, just when Draco was about to give up hope that Harry would respond, physically about to draw back and emotionally preparing himself to regain his cold demeanour, Harry returned the kiss gently, hesitantly.

He must be dreaming again, Harry had finally concluded, this could only be a dream, so it didn't made a difference if he returned this kiss now, there would be no consequences.

Harry dropped the scrolls he'd been holding in his hands and wrapped his right arm around Draco's neck, let his hand rest over Draco's neck.

When Draco pulled back because the need for oxygen had become too strong, Harry could've sworn that his heart had just stopped.

Draco was smirking, the amusement was all too clear in his grey eyes.

This wasn't supposed to happen in dreams. The dreams never before ended in Draco mocking him, the dreams were supposed to end happy, Harry thought numbly.

There was no doubt in his mind that Draco would mock him now, that he'd make fun of him and tell all his friends that Harry Potter had been foolish enough to believe that he actually wanted to kiss him for any other reason than for gaining another trophy to brag about.

"You know, I think we owe Blaise our thanks", Draco said in an amused voice. Wryness crept into his voice as he added, "though he's going to rub it in for at least the rest of our school time, that's going to be quite a joy."

Harry laughed with relief. "And here I'd been thinking…", he whispered to himself.

"Thinking what?", Draco prodded.

Again embarrassment made Harry's head turn bright red. "Uh…"

But Draco wouldn't let it go. "Tell me", he said in a firm voice.

"I'd been afraid that you're only playing with me when I saw you smirk like that after we kissed", Harry said in a tiny voice.

"I wouldn't have ever done that!", Draco protested. He's torn between feeling insulted because Harry could think of him to resort to such low means and at the same time he's flattered because Harry cared enough to worry.

"I know that now", Harry agreed, shooting him an apologetic gaze.

Draco tightened the grip he'd on Harry's jaw somewhat to reinforce his point, yet careful not to hurt him. "I'm a Slytherin, Harry, I'm very ambitious and willing to use whatever means necessary. But Slytherins never stab other Slytherins in the back, those we care about are untouchable for us."

"And I'm immensely glad for that", Harry answered with a small smile on his face that quickly became larger and larger, until he's beaming.

Harry couldn't believe his own luck, Draco had kissed him voluntarily and Draco didn't made fun of him, he also didn't tried to exploit the weakness Harry had given away. He's giddy with joy, even though the pessimistic part of Harry still was sceptical if this wasn't just a daydream.

"Don't think so much, Harry", Draco urged the dark-haired boy on.

"I can't. What does this mean? Where are we going to go from here?"

"I don't know, Harry. I don't have a hint of a clue. But let's just not think about that now, let's not think about difficulties and what this means right now. There's later sufficient time for that, let's not spoil these moments."

Harry read between the lines that they maybe wouldn't have more than a few moments or days, and after taking that into consideration, Harry had to agree with Draco's way of thinking. One of them would surely come to his senses quickly, either Harry who realized that he's kissing the heir of his greatest enemy's right hand man or Draco who realized that Harry would do too much harm to a possible Death Eater career.

"Let's tell the others?"

"No, not yet. Blaise and Seamus are tattletales, if he knows the whole wizarding world will know as well within 72 hours."

The Boy Who Lived shuddered at the very thought of the consequences such thoughtless gossiping would have. God, he'd had enough trouble back during the TriWizard Tournament with Rita Skeeter, he didn't needed to feed the gossip anew. And even worse would be this time that Rita Skeeter would be writing for once in her life the truth…

Draco also wasn't fond of that idea, he treasured his life, thank you very much. And his father certainly wouldn't be happy if he learned from the Daily Prophet that his only child had an affair with the enemy of his master, least of all once Voldemort himself found out about it.

"Let's keep it a secret", Harry agreed.

Draco drew reluctantly away from Harry and started to pick up the scrolls again. "Blaise will become suspicious if we take too long and don't have any injuries."

"Yes, you're right", Harry said faintly. Actually, he didn't cared all that much if Blaise got suspicious, kissing Draco sounded right now considerably more attractive than gathering scrolls, but Harry had gotten to know Draco well enough in these weeks he spent in Slytherin to know that there's no chance to change Draco's mind when he had that determined expression on his face.

Three quarters of an hour, some kissing and much hurrying later, Harry and Draco entered the Great Hall in their Slytherin-green dress robes on which Snape had insisted for all his students.

Like for every Christmas, the Great Hall had been decorated beautifully.

There were twelve Christmas trees standing in the Great Hall, the largest being so tall that it's tip reached the roof, instead of the four House tables and Head table, there was now only one large table for the students and teachers who stayed over Christmas.

As he passed them, Harry wished the headmaster a merry Christmas and frowned as he caught sight of Jane Attwood and Sarah Mitchell, the Slytherin Chasers, sitting close to his friends. He couldn't stand the snobbish seventh and fourth years and wouldn't so much as look as them twice if it wouldn't be for them being his team mates. While those students in Harry's own years and the children had accepted him as a Slytherin, some older Slytherins saw in him only the enemy of Lord Voldemort or an intruder into their close-knit family.

"Hello", Harry said to his friends and the other Slytherins staying, while he decided to just ignore the two girls, who're shooting disdainful looks at him. "Say, Blaise, are you trying to win a contest or something?" Blaise was not only wearing his best dress robes, but had also trimmed himself up as if he's about to join one of those muggle beauty contests Harry had read about when he's with the Dursleys during the summer holidays.

Blaise flashed him a wicked grin. "Maybe, Harry, who knows…"

Harry rolled his eyes at Blaise's attempt to appear secretive and mysterious. Blaise had decided during Quidditch practice last night that he would look even more appealing if he would act like a big question mark and already it annoyed Harry to no end.

"Say, boys, took you awfully long to bring the letters to the owlery and change into your dress robes…", Seamus commented wickedly.

Draco felt like running against a wall with his head first, or casting Cruciatus on himself.

Why couldn't those terrible monsters who called themselves his friends ever give it a rest?

Dumbledore standing up saved Draco and Harry for the moment from further questions. "My dear students and teachers, I know you're all starving and want to start with the feast, so I won't hold any long speeches. I wish you all a merry Christmas and enjoy the feast!"

The headmaster clapped his hands and a moment later there appeared more food on the table than could've been devoured if the whole school had been here.

Of course students and teachers immediately started to try and prove that assumption wrong by eating more of the mouth-watering dishes than could have ever been healthy for them.

Madame Pomfrey would have the hospital wing later crowded with stomachache patients, so much was sure.

Over the table, Harry caught Draco's eye and smiled shyly at him.

When the smile was returned, his smile turned into a full-fledged beam.

To be continued…

Don't worry, Attwood and Mitchell aren't going to appear often and won't turn into Mary Sues. I just wanted to show by their example that not everyone in Slytherin likes it that the Dark Lord's enemy (and the heir of Gryffindor, as well as son of a muggle-born witch) is in their House and that some people still hate Harry in there. And since they'd already been mentioned earlier, I figured I would use those two teen snobs.

The fifth year Slytherins accepted Harry, Neville and Seamus simply because they're now some of their own, but those Slytherins in the years above him (in particular those from the old-money families with ties to dear uncle Voldie) as well as those younger who're too old to be overly impressed by his reputation, namely third and fourth years, don't feel any obligation to him.

And I can understand them, for four and a half years Harry and his friends have been the enemies of Slytherin House, they had to stick together because no one else would like to have anything to do with Slyths for the bad reputation Voldie had earned them and suddenly their group is torn apart and the places of their friends are taken by enemies. I also wouldn't be happy if my friends were all taken away from me and I would have to live with people who always scorned me.

Just wanted to explain that, so you won't fear I'm going to insert Mary Sues.

I also got here a link for you to a very fascinating essay about Slytherins, their motives and how they're treated/perceived from the other Houses. Narcissa has done a wonderful job, the best explanation of House Slytherin that I've ever read.

I can't write Hagrid-accent, so I had to make him speak normal.

And last but not least… hope you enjoyed this instalment!

In the next chapter we'll find out if Draco or Harry chickens out, how the other Slytherins react and if maybe someone tells Draco's parents…