For Paula, because it's second person (still your fault!) and Deamus. And because I love you. Mostly that :D (And I noticed after I wrote this that it's sort of a bit like the one you just wrote for me… oops?)

Hugs to Sam for being amazing as always and helping me out when I got a bit stuck on this one :D

Written for the December Fanfic Tournament (write about Christmas) and Breaststroke for the 2012 Hogwarts Games (write something slash, 100-1000 words). Also for HedwigBlack's A Very Slashy Competition.


It's not until you stumble blearily into a muggle town under the cover of a Disillusionment Charm, desperate for sustenance, that you notice the twinkling lights.

You've long lost track of time — nights and days all blur together into a mass of brief clever moments alternating with panic — and you try to do the mental calculations but you come up blank until you pass a storefront with a helpful sign: Closed for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

It's Christmas. It's Christmas and you hadn't known.

The nice thing about this is that it means you'll get a solid meal for the first time in ages — there's a church serving the homeless, and you definitely look the part by now.

The downside is that the ache in your chest that's been simmering since September gets fiercer. You miss them. You miss your Ma, and your Dad, and your sisters (who are half-sisters, technically, but you've never really bothered with that distinction). Mostly, though, you miss him. Your best friend. You miss his arrogant half-smile and the easy twitch of his lips. You miss watching his blue eyes light up when they land on you. You miss the way he used to know somehow, every time it was him you were drawing, and the way he'd look up and smile that small, knowing smile, but he'd never ask and he'd never protest. He was the only one who understood without you ever fumbling for an explanation that drawing was something you needed to do, not just something you did.

You miss the fire in his voice and his eyes that told you when something mattered. You miss the anger, the excitement, the joy, the passion, because he's probably the only person you know who feels everything so deeply.You miss his flash-fire temper and his equally easy grin.

Without even thinking, your hand brushes the bag slung over your shoulder — the bag containing your sketchbook and the most basic set of pencils you can survive on. You've been laughed at by your fellow fugitives for the fact that your essentials include a sketchbook and pencils, but that's you.

The sketchbook is nearly full by now. Full of him. The first image is the only one that was already there when you left home. It's from the night before you left, the night he spent asleep in your bed — haven fallen asleep quite by accident — and you spent propped up next to him, memorising his face.

The rest of the sketches are all from memory, and sometimes you aren't quite sure where that freckle goes, or what the exact curve of that cheekbone is (which scares you a little bit — you can't be forgetting so soon, can you?), but you're mostly sure that you've got them right. The angry fire in his eyes is right. The deep melancholy. The cheerful joy. The expressions are right.

It's not the same, of course. It can never be the same, but somehow having him with you on paper is better than not having him with you at all.

You unconsciously cling to your bag as you sit down at the table full of strangers, and you wish he was there with you, or you with him — even though you know both are impossible. He can't know where you are, and you can't go back to him. It's Christmas, Christmas, and you wish there was some way that you could just tell him a simple Happy Christmas, gift him with at least a smile, but you can't and it hurts. The ache in your chest is a dull, desperate throb — not to be confused with the gnawing hunger in your stomach at the sight of the food.

The man beside you tries to make conversation, but you can't, because you're a million miles away, even as you sit so close.

You trace circles on the tabletop because you can't trace them on his skin and you tell yourself for the thousandth time that this will end.

And all you want is for this war to be over because when it is, you're going to wrap your arms around him and never let go, and you're going to tell him — because somehow you haven't yet — that he is your world. That you love him, and you are never, ever going to let him go.